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Rugby League World Cup - Rugby League: England return for McIlorum

Catalans Dragons hooker Michael McIlorum has been named in the England squad for the first time since 2013.

What: England v Combined Nations All-Stars

Where: Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington

When: 17:45, Saturday 18th June 2022

How to watch: Sky Sports Arena

World Cup Odds: Australia 3/10, England 6/1, New Zealand 13/2

England head coach Shane Wane is set to test his squad against the Combined Nations All-Stars on Saturday at Warrington's Halliwell Jones Stadium.

The All-Stars fixture is a tradition that dates back to the Other Nationalities team of the early 20th century, with a squad made up of overseas players who ply their trade in the northern hemisphere.

It offers Wane, who took charge of the national side on a two-year deal in February 2020, the opportunity to cast an eye over his options ahead of the World Cup on home soil in the autumn.

England are set to take on Samoa, France and Greece in the group stage of the competition when it gets underway on 15th October.

Wane has been restricted to selecting players only from Super League for the clash with those based in the NRL unavailable.

England, priced at 6/1 to win the World Cup, have played just twice since Wane's appointment, losing to the Combined Nations All-Stars and beating France.

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McIlorum switches back to England

McIlorum made his England debut in 2012 when playing under Wane at Wigan Warriors, going on to make five appearances.

The hooker was named in the squad for the 2013 World Cup but he opted to switch allegiance and represent Ireland ahead of the 2017 edition of the competition.

Now part of the set-up at Catalans, McIlorum has caught the eye of his former boss and earned a route back into the frame with England.

He helped the French outfit to win the League Leaders' Shield in 2021 but they came up short in the Grand Final, losing to St Helens at Old Trafford.

Catalans, priced 4/1 to win the 2022 Grand Final, currently sit second in the Super League standings, thanks largely to McIlorum's exploits.

The 34-year-old sits third for most tackles (411) within the Catalans squad this term and he's the second-highest for assists (9).

Teammate Mike McMeeken has also been recalled and could make his first appearance since 2017.

Saints well represented

With St Helens leading the way in the Super League standings, sitting four points clear of second-placed Catalans, it's no surprise to see the club strongly represented in the 20-man squad.

There are five inclusions from the Totally Wicked Stadium outfit, including a first call-up for Jack Welsby and Joe Batchelor.

Saints trio Morgan Knowles, Jonny Lomax and Mark Percival miss out through injury but Matty Lees, Tommy Makinson and Alex Walmsley will hope to get some minutes under their belts.

Wane believes each of his selections, whether experienced or fresh-faced, has the ability to influence the clash.

"I've every confidence in every player selected. Some need no introduction and have earned a recall, others are new to the squad and are also in on merit," Wane said.

"They all have the ability to perform at this level and this is their chance to show myself and England supporters what they can do."

Tomkins handed captaincy

Catalans Dragons full-back, who also played under Wane at Wigan, has been trusted to captain England.

Tomkins is the leading points scorer for the French club in 2022, registering 64, and Wane feels he's the perfect candidate to lead out the nation ranked second in the world.

Wane added: "Sam epitomises everything that a captain should be - a natural leader who's always in the thick of the action, he's a very smart player."

All-Stars head coach Ellery Hanley, a former Wigan and Leeds teammate of Wane, has selected popular Hull KR captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall to skipper his side as they look to emulate last year's 26-24 victory.

Kenny-Dowall said: "I'm buzzing.

"It's going to be a massive honour and privilege to go in there this week and represent my club and the boys. I'm looking forward to getting into camp, meeting all the boys and having a great week.

"I'm very grateful and blessed for Ellery giving me the opportunity to come into camp and lead the boys out."

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