LEEDS RHINOS have four players named in the England Knights squad to tour Papua New Guinea via Brisbane later this month.
Full-back Jack Walker, winger Ash Handley, stand-off Liam Sutcliffe and prop Mikolaj Oledzki are all included as are Castleford Tigers duo Oli Holmes and Greg Minkin plus Wakefield Trinity’s James Batchelor.
However, there is no place for Castleford half-back Jake Trueman, the Super League Young Player of the Year contender, sparking fears that the hand injury he suffered at St Helens last week might be worse than originally feared.
Tigers are due to name their 19-man squad later today for Friday’s Super League semi-final at Wigan Warriors with coach Daryl Powell saying Trueman would be a late check.
In the Knights, Hull FC are represented by Dean Hadley, Jamie Shaul and Brad Fash while Hull KR duo Chris Atkin and Robbie Mulhern are also rewarded for fine campaigns.
Huddersfield Giants have just one player selected - hooker Kruise Leeming - although Knights will be captained by their former second-row Jack Hughes, one of four Warrington Wolves players named by head coach Paul Anderson.
It is the first Knights squad that has been selected since they faced Samoa in 2013.
They leave on October 18 for a week’s preparation at the state-of-the-art Brisbane Broncos training base.
They then fly to Lae for the first match against the Kumuls on Saturday October 27, before moving to the capital Port Moresby where the teams meet again at the 15,000-capacity Oil Search National Football Stadium on November 3.
Anderson said: “I’m as excited about the squad as I am about the trip.
“When you add it to the England squad that was named earlier this week for the autumn internationals, it shows we’ve got a real depth of talent coming through.
“Playing in Papua New Guinea is going to be a completely different experience for all the players in our squad. That off-field touring experience is one of the reasons reviving the Knights was so important.
“We’re expecting a warm welcome in a country where they love their rugby league, and hopefully our visit will also be a boost for rugby league in PNG.
“The lads have already seen from the elevation of Joe Greenwood and Reece Lyne from the Knights squad to the senior England squad the sort of opportunities that could open up if they impress on this trip.”
The Knights were revived earlier this year by the Rugby Football League, at the instigation of Kevin Sinfield MBE in his role as rugby director, as a key part of England’s preparations for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
Former England and Great Britain prop Anderson will be assisted by his former St Helens and international team-mate Paul Sculthorpe MBE.
Sculthorpe was a member of the last Great Britain team to play in Papua New Guinea, in 1996, making his international debut as a 19-year-old in the 32-30
Walker is one of two nominees for the Young Player of the Year in the Betfred Super League who are included in the squad – alongside the St Helens second-row Matty Lees.
Danny Richardson, the Saints scrum-half who was selected in the 2018 Betfred Dream Team earlier this week, is also included.
England Knights Squad: Holmes, Minikin (both Castleford Tigers), Leeming (Huddersfield Giants), Atkin, Mulhern (both Hull KR), Shaul, Hadley, Fash (all Hull FC), Oledzki, Sutcliffe, Walker, Handley (all Leeds Rhinos), Richardson, Lees (both St Helens), Batchelor (Wakefield Trinity), Powell, Gildart, Davies (all Wigan), Livett, Hughes, Philbin, King (all Warrington Wolves), Whitley, Walker (both Widnes Vikings)