Oct 11 2011
Carl Ablett is the shock inclusion in England's squad for the Gillette Four Nations Series.
The 25-year-old second rower-turned centre is one of seven players from Super League champions Leeds Rhinos named in coach Steve McNamara's 24-man squad for the matches against Wales, Australia and New Zealand.
There are also four players from Grand Final runners-up St Helens but just two representatives from Wigan, with second rower or centre Joel Tomkins making himself unavailable amid growing speculation that he is set to switch codes by signing for Saracens.
Ablett, who revealed in the aftermath of Leeds' 32-16 win over Saints at Old Trafford that he sustained a fractured cheekbone in the last match of the regular Super League season six weeks ago, is one of six new faces in McNamara's squad.
The Rhinos did not have a single player in the 2011 Super League Dream Team but their late-season revival has brought reward for Ablett and six of his team-mates, including uncapped winger Ben Jones-Bishop, veteran prop Jamie Peacock, who was confirmed as captain, and forward Ryan Bailey.
Another Leeds player, half-back or hooker Rob Burrow, who was man of the match in the Grand Final, was not considered because of a rib injury that has troubled him in recent weeks.
St Helens centre Michael Shenton, who dislocated an elbow at Old Trafford, is also ruled out, along with Warrington centre Chris Bridge, Huddersfield prop Eorl Crabtree, Wigan loose forward Sean O'Loughlin and South Sydney forward Sam Burgess.
St Helens' 20-year-old half-back Jonny Lomax has got the nod over Warrington's Richie Myler and Huddersfield's Danny Brough and, as expected, the squad includes Castleford's Maori international Rangi Chase and Australia-based quartet Chris Heightington, Gareth Widdop, Jack Reed and Gareth Ellis.
England play a warm-up international against France in Avignon on Friday week before playing their first Four Nations game against Wales at Leigh on Saturday, October 29.
Leeds also provide two players, Zak Hardaker and Chris Clarkson, in a youthful England Knights squad for Saturday's game against France at Leigh.