UNCAPPED Wakefield Trinity centre Reece Lyne is the surprise pick in England’s squad for this autumn’s internationals - with Castleford Tigers loose forward Adam Milner also getting a call-up.
Lyne, 25, has enjoyed a fine campaign for Wakefield but has never before even been in the England Performance Squad (EPS) and was originally pencilled in to tour Papua New Guinea with the England Knights.
However, with Leeds Rhinos centre Kallum Watkins missing, he has been drafted into Wayne Bennett’s 24-man squad to prepare for France at Leigh on October 17 and the three Test series versus New Zealand that begins in his hometown of Hull 10 days later.
As expected, Lyne is joined by Wakefield team-mate Tom Johnstone, the prolific winger who earned Dream Team selection yesterday and now hopes to make his international debut in the absence of injured Leeds star Ryan Hall.
Milner, meanwhile, was only called into the EPS for the first time in July but has been rewarded for his continued fine performances for title-chasing Castleford by making the final cut.
He is one of five uncapped players and - at 26 - the oldest with the others being St Helens prop Luke Thompson and Wigan Warriors second-row Joe Greenwood.
Hull FC’s Jake Connor and Huddersfield Giants’ Jermaine McGillvary retain their places while Castleford's Luke Gale is back from injury and there is a recall for Wigan Warriors full-back Sam Tomkins after a four-year international absence.
Ex-Hull KR hooker Josh Hodgson is also back after he missed last December’s World Cup final and the mid-season win over the Kiwis in Denver due to a knee reconstruction.
St Helens hooker James Roby is not in after it was decided he would have surgery at the end of the season so Castleford-born Daryl Clark, the Warrington No9, comes in.
Bennett said: “The England team have an attractive and important series of matches this autumn, and the players are relishing the prospect of representing their country in front of home crowds again.
“It’s important that we build on the positive work of the last couple of years, including last year’s World Cup and the Denver Test, against what we’d expect to be the usual stern challenge from the Kiwis.”
The England 24 includes nine of the 17 who played in the World Cup final defeat to Australia, 15 members of the World Cup squad, and 13 of the 17 who won in Denver.
Six members of the World Cup final team were ruled out by injury – Gareth Widdop, Watkins, Hall, Ben Currie, Alex Walmsley and Roby.
England: Bateman, G Burgess, S Burgess, T Burgess, Clark, Connor, Gale, Graham, Greenwood, Hill, Hodgson, Johnstone, Lomax, Lyne, Makinson, McGillvary, Milner, O’Loughlin, Percival, Ratchford, Thompson, S Tomkins, Whitehead, Williams.