Ex-Raider Williams back in England squad

Ex-Raider Williams back in England squad

Released from Canberra mid-season amid acrimony, George Williams has been picked in the England rugby league squad before arriving back in his home country.

The halfback star was named in coach Shaun Wane's provisional 24-man national squad for next Friday's fixture against the Combined Nations All Stars at Warrington.

Williams is travelling back to England after securing a release on compassionate grounds from his NRL contract with the Raiders, reportedly homesick and having several times sought a return home.

He is expected to join Warrington, with Gareth Widdop reportedly set to leave the Super League outfit mid-season to return to the NRL with either Canberra or the Warriors.

Williams made his last appearance for the Raiders against Melbourne on May 22 and Wane will check on his fitness before reducing his England squad to 19 ahead of going into camp next week.

Also included is Castleford hooker Paul McShane, the 2020 Super League Man of Steel who is set to make his England debut at the age of 31, plus several uncapped players.

Winger Ash Handley is joined by his Leeds team-mate Mikolaj Oledzki, who has earned a promotion from the England Knights squad and could make history as the first Poland-born player to play international rugby league.

Another Knights graduate, Warrington centre Toby King, is also called up with Morgan Knowles, St Helens' Barrow-born loose forward who represented Wales at the 2017 World Cup but has now switched allegiance to England.

There are also first call-ups for Huddersfield centre Jake Wardle and former Wigan winger Tom Davies, one of two Catalans Dragons players in the squad alongside Sam Tomkins.

Tim Sheens is expected to announce his All Stars squad on Sunday evening.

England's 24-man squad: John Bateman (Wigan), Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie (all Warrington), Tom Davies (Catalans), Liam Farrell (Wigan), Luke Gale, Ash Handley (both Leeds), Toby King (Warrington), Morgan Knowles (St Helens), Reece Lyne (Wakefield), Jonny Lomax (St Helens), Paul McShane (Castleford), Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield), Mikolaj Oledzki (Leeds), Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford (both Warrington), Dan Sarginson (Salford), Sam Tomkins (Catalans), Alex Walmsley (St Helens), Jake Wardle (Huddersfield), Joe Westerman (Wakefield), George Williams (unattached).

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