SAINTS full back Lachlan Coote is among the eight-strong Saints contingent in the 29-man Great Britain Performance Squad preparing for this autumn’s first Rugby League Lions tour since 2006.

And it would have been nine, with selectors saying Matty Lees would have been chosen had he not been struck down with the serious abdominal injury.

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On-song Welsh international loose forward Morgan Knowles is rewarded for week-in, week out quality displays by inclusion in the squad selected by a seven-man panel led by Wayne Bennett, who will be the Head Coach for this autumn’s four-match tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

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But there is no place for Welsh wingman Regan Grace - with wing spots going to Leeds' Ash Handley, Warrington's Josh Charnley, Jermaine McGillvary of Huddersfield and Golden Boot Tommy Makinson.

Hooker James Roby is, along with Sean O'Loughlin, one of only two players with Great Britain experience included.

The Saints skipper made the last of his seven GB appearances as a substitute in that series, having been a member of the squad who played in Australia and New Zealand on the 2006 Tri-Nations tour.

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Powerhouse props Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley have been chosen, with World Cup finalist Jonny Lomax and centre Mark Percival in the 29.

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The other selectors were the team manager and former GB captain Jamie Peacock; Ian Watson and Danny Ward, who have been appointed Bennett’s assistant coaches for the tour; and three more former GB tourists in Paul Anderson, Paul Sculthorpe and Paul Wellens.

The squad will gather in Leeds on Tuesday week September 10, and training sessions will then begin during the Super League play-off series in early October.

Wayne Bennett said: “As we’ve said since the return of the Great Britain team was announced at the start of the year, we have considered everyone who is eligible and puts themselves forward.

"As well as this Performance Squad of players based in England and France, we’ve got another group of players based in the NRL to consider – and there’s still time for others who are eligible to impress and force their way in.”

The final 24-man squad will be announced within 48 hours of the Betfred Super League Grand Final on October 12.

Great Britain’s first appearance on the international stage since 2007 will be a first ever Test against Tonga in Hamilton, New Zealand on Saturday October 26.

That is followed by Tests against New Zealand on each of the next two Saturdays (at Auckland’s Eden Park on November 2, and Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch on November 9), before Great Britain conclude the tour in Port Moresby on November 16, a first Test in Papua New Guinea since 1996.

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All four Tests will be shown live on the BBC, with extended highlights later in the day.

GB Rugby League Elite Performance Squad.

Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers)

Liam Watts (Castleford Tigers)

Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons)

Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants)

Jake Connor (Hull FC)

Jamie Shaul (Hull FC)

Scott Taylor (Hull FC)

Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos)

Stevie Ward (Leeds Rhinos)

Jonny Lomax (St Helens)

Tommy Makinson (St Helens)

Mark Percival (St Helens)

James Roby (St Helens)

Luke Thompson (St Helens)

Alex Walmsley (St Helens)

Morgan Knowles (St Helens)

Lachlan Coote (St Helens)

Josh Jones (Salford Red Devils)

Reece Lyne (Wakefield Trinity)

Blake Austin (Warrington Wolves)

Josh Charnley (Warrington Wolves)

Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves)

Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves)

Jack Hughes (Warrington Wolves)

Joe Philbin (Warrington Wolves)

Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves)

Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors)

Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors)

George Williams (Wigan Warriors)