Ex-Raider Williams back in the England squad
Released from Canberra mid-season against a backdrop of acrimony, George Williams was selected for the England rugby union team before returning to his home country.
The half-back star has been named to coach Shaun Wane’s provisional 24-man national team for next Friday’s game against the Combined Nations All Stars in Warrington.
Williams returns to England after securing a humanitarian release from his NRL contract with the Raiders, who is reportedly homesick and has repeatedly sought to return home.
He is expected to join Warrington, with Gareth Widdop expected to leave the Super League squad mid-season to return to the NRL with Canberra or the Warriors.
Williams made his last appearance for the Raiders against Melbourne on May 22 and Wane will check his fitness before reducing his England side to 19 before entering the camp next week.
Castleford hooker Paul McShane, the 2020 Super League man of steel set to make his England debut at the age of 31, as well as several uncapped players are also included.
Winger Ash Handley is joined by Leeds teammate Mikolaj Oledzki, who has secured a promotion from the England Knights squad and could make history as the first Polish-born player to play in the international rugby league .
Another Knights graduate, Warrington center Toby King, is also called up along with Morgan Knowles, the loose St Helens Barrow-born forward who represented Wales at the 2017 World Cup but has now changed allegiance to England.
There are also early calls for Huddersfield center Jake Wardle and former Wigan winger Tom Davies, one of the team’s two Catalan Dragons players alongside Sam Tomkins.
Tim Sheens is expected to announce his All Stars squad on Sunday night.
The English 24-man team: John Bateman (Wigan), Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie (all Warrington), Tom Davies (Catalans), Liam Farrell (Wigan), Luke Gale, Ash Handley (both in 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) .