Hardaker and Hill make training squad

PA Sport
Leeds' Zak Hardaker was named Super League young player of the year
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Leeds' Zak Hardaker was named Super League young player of the year

Leeds full-back Zak Hardaker and Warrington prop Chris Hill are the eye-catching names in England coach Steve McNamara's 24-man squad for a high-altitude training camp to South Africa and the autumn internationals.

The 20-year-old Hardaker was on Monday night named Super League young player of the year after impressing in his first full season with the Rhinos, initially at centre and more recently at full-back, while Hill was named in the 2012 Super League Dream Team after comfortably making the step up from the part-time Championship.

"One player who has impressed me throughout the Super League season is Warrington's Chris Hill and deserves his call-up to the senior squad," said McNamara. "I want to see how he, along with the other young players, adapts to the rigours of international competition."

McNamara added: "It will be great for their development to be training and playing alongside the likes of Sam Burgess and Kevin Sinfield."

South Sydney's former Bradford forward Burgess, who missed last year's Four Nations Series through injury, is one of three Australia-based players called up by McNamara, along with Gareth Ellis, who is returning to Super League with Hull next season, and former St Helens captain James Graham.

However, Graham is facing a disciplinary hearing in Sydney on Thursday to answer a charge of biting and could be ruled out through suspension.

Melbourne Storm's Halifax-born stand-off Gareth Widdop, who played a pivotal role in his club's Grand-Final victory over Graham's Bulldogs on Sunday, and Brisbane Broncos centre Jack Reed both miss out with shoulder injuries and will undergo surgery in the close season.

Second rower Chris Heighington, the other NRL-based player who made his England debut in 2011, has missed out on selection, along with Huddersfield scrum-half Danny Brough. Other notable absentees are Huddersfield prop Eorl Crabtree, St Helens back-row forward Jon Wilkin and Hull second rower Danny Tickle, who are all injured.

"This year's international programme, including our camp to South Africa, is all about fine-tuning our preparations ahead of the Rugby League World Cup in just over a year's time," added McNamara. "The autumn internationals will be a tough test against two nations who are making good progress. We want to make sure we play to our very best and win well."

England meet Wales in Wrexham on Saturday, October 27, and France at Hull KR's Craven Park on Saturday, November 3.

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