Six NRL players in England squad

Ian Laybourn
Thomas, George, Luke and Sam Burgess with mother Julie. Thomas, George and Sam made the England side

Six NRL stars - including three Burgess brothers - have made England's 19-man squad to play the controversial rugby league Test against New Zealand in Denver.

There were no great surprises with the Australian-based contingent as South Sydney forward trio Sam, Thomas and George were all picked alongside rugged St George Illawarra prop James Graham, his teammate and pivot Gareth Widdop and Canberra second rower Elliott Whitehead.

Jake Connor's explosive form for injury-hit Hull also saw him recognised.

The 23-year-old former Huddersfield outside back is one of three uncapped players chosen by coach Wayne Bennett for the groundbreaking international at the Mile High Stadium on June 23.

St Helens pair Luke Thompson and Tommy Makinson are the other new faces.

Connor was in the England Knights performance squad due to tour Papua New Guinea in the autumn but his sparkling form in a variety of positions for Hull this year has earned him promotion to the senior squad.

In promoting Connor and prop Thompson from the Knights squad, Bennett has gone for the men in form but he has also demonstrated loyalty by sticking with his World Cup wingers, Jermaine McGillvary and Ryan Hall, so Makinson is not guaranteed to win his first cap in Colorado.

McGillvary, who scored seven tries in six appearances at the World Cup, and Hall, England's all-time record tryscorer, fought off competition from Tom Johnstone and Josh Charnley to retain their places.

Thompson's call-up is no surprise after a huge season so far with the Super League leaders, who provide five of the 13 England-based players.

James Roby is the only specialist hooker in the squad, while Mark Percival looks assured of a centre berth and Jonny Lomax will be vying with Stefan Ratchford and Widdop for both fullback and halfback roles in the absence of the injured Luke Gale.

While the match was sanctioned by the Rugby League International Federation and takes place during the mid-season break, a number of NRL clubs were initially reluctant to release their English and New Zealand players.

Bennett said: "I have selected a strong squad that I believe has the ability and talent to beat New Zealand in Denver.

"We have been impressed with all the players this season and the three uncapped players deserve their call-ups after showing their talent and determination both on and off the field.

"We have always been clear that the door to the senior squad is open to any player showing the form to be selected."

England: John Bateman, George Burgess, Sam Burgess, Thomas Burgess, Jake Connor, James Graham, Ryan Hall, Chris Hill, Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Jermaine McGillvary, Sean O'Loughlin, Mark Percival, Stefan Ratchford, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Gareth Widdop, George Williams, Elliott Whitehead.