England coach Steve McNamara has named five Saints players in his 34-man squad for the mid-season training camp at Loughborough University from June 15-17.
Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Alex Walmsley and Kyle Amor are rewarded for their fine starts to the season, joining World Cup hooker James Roby in the squad preparing for the 2014 Four Nations in Australia and New Zealand.
Although Amor is ruled out of Saints action for three months with a knee ligament injury, McNamara has clearly been impressed with the big Cumbrian’s start to the season.
Fellow front rower Walmsley has built on last year’s first campaign in the top flight with some powerful displays.
In the backline Makinson is rewarded for an outstanding start to the season, epitomised by some eye-catching tight corner flag touchdowns.
Apart from one solitary blip against Warrington, Lomax has been outstanding all season and is slowly but surely asserting himself at full back.
The 34 players are drawn from eight Super League clubs and comprises the nucleus of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup squad, with the addition of players from the England Knights programme.
England boss McNamara will fly in from his home in Sydney to lead the camp, which he feels is an important part of the national team’s bid to taste international success Down Under this autumn.
“The camp is very important for us and I’m looking forward to working with all the players as a group again,” he said.
“We have made considerable progress over the last few years by getting together at specific stages of the year and this training camp allows us to build on that progress by spending valuable time together.
“It’s been a difficult process putting this squad together because of the sheer number of players who were in contention: there is an enormous amount of talent emerging through the ranks in Super League.
“Many of the players in the squad were with us for the World Cup and there are some great additions to the group who will benefit from being in a camp that will focus everyone’s minds on what we need to do to achieve international success.
“We have widened the net for this camp and the door remains open for every player in Super League: there are a lot of games remaining between now and the end of the season and a lot of opportunities for players to put themselves in contention for selection.”
Of the 34-man squad named today, 25 players will convene at Loughborough on Sunday June 15: the nine Wigan Warriors players are unavailable following the rescheduling of the First Utility Super League Round 2 fixture against Widnes Vikings, which will be played on Wednesday June 18.
The England mid-season training squad is as follows (professional and community clubs in brackets).
Daryl Clark (Castleford Tigers, Fryston Warriors).
Craig Huby (Castleford Tigers, Pontefract Lions).
Michael Shenton (Castleford Tigers, Upton & Frickley).
Elliott Whitehead (Catalan Dragons, West Bowling).
Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome Panthers).
Brett Ferres (Huddersfield Giants, Smawthorne Panthers).
Joe Westerman (Hull FC, Featherstone Lions).
Josh Hodgson (Hull Kingston Rovers, East Hull).
Carl Ablett (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Parkside).
Tom Briscoe (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions).
Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders).
Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions).
Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos, Waterhead).
Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion).
Jamie Jones-Buchanan (Leeds Rhinos, Stanningley).
Jonny Lomax (St Helens, Orrell St James).
Tommy Makinson (St Helens, Wigan St Judes).
James Roby (St Helens, Blackbrook).
Alex Walmsley (St Helens, Dewsbury Celtic).
Kyle Amor (St Helens, Hensingham).
Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Spring Lions).
Richard Myler (Warrington Wolves, West Bank Bears).
Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves, Wigan St Patricks).
Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves, Normanton Knights).
Chris Bridge (Warrington Wolves, Waterhead).
John Bateman (Wigan Warriors, Bradford Dudley Hill).
Joe Burgess (Wigan Warriors, Ince Rose Bridge).
Josh Charnley (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks).
Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks).
Michael McIlorum (Wigan Warriors, Queens).
Sean O'Loughlin (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks).
Dan Sarginson (Wigan Warriors, Hemel Stags).
Scott Taylor (Wigan Warriors, Skirlaugh).
Matty Smith (Wigan Warriors, Blackbrook).