Sam Burgess of the Rabbitohs has made England's squad for the Four Nations.
Sam Burgess of the Rabbitohs has made England's squad for the Four Nations. RICHARD WAINWRIGHT

Burgess back on deck for England

RUGBY LEAGUE: Sam Burgess will play for England for the first time since his ill-fated defection to rugby union after being named in the country's Four Nations squad.

England coach Wayne Bennett named the Rabbitohs forward in a 24-man group for the tournament starting later this month. Australia, New Zealand and Scotland are also taking part.

Bennett said he was glad to have the second-rower back.

"To have Sam Burgess back is not just a boost for England but one for the international game,” he said.

"Having worked with him in the past, he's a great bloke to have around and have by your shoulder on the field.”

Burgess is one of eight 2016 NRL players named by Bennett, alongside Burgess's brothers Tom and George, Canberra's Josh Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead, the Dragons' Gareth Widdop and Mike Cooper and Bulldogs skipper James Graham.

Graham is favourite to captain the England side after Wigan forward Sean O'Loughlin was left out.

The lock did play in the Warriors' grand final win over Warrington on the weekend but was deemed not fit enough for the Four Nations after a season interrupted by injuries.

Also missing due to injury are fullback Sam Tomkins and Ben Currie.

"Injuries are part and parcel of the game and to lose players like O'Loughlin, Tomkins and Currie isn't ideal but it does offer opportunities to others who have performed in the year and it's good to see some new and returning faces in the squad,” Bennett said.

"There's some serious talent in this all-English side and that's testament to the England program, the clubs they play for and the players' attitude in wanting to do their best each week. I've spoken to the boys and they're well aware what's ahead of them in this tournament.”

Jonny Lomax and St Helens teammate Mark Percival are the only new faces in the squad.



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