Captain Kevin Sinfield has welcomed the inclusion of twin brothers Tom and George Burgess in England’s World Cup squad.
Coach Steve McNamara opted to pick the 21-year-old former Bradford forwards alongside older brother Sam, thereby making history by naming three brothers in an England squad for the first time.
The youngest Burgess brothers played for England Knights a year ago but have been promoted on the back of a series of strong performances for South Sydney this season, with George being named NRL rookie of the year.
“I’ve seen clips of them and I know they’ve been tearing up trees,” Sinfield said. “To have two giants like that available with inside knowledge and without any fear is fantastic.”
All four brothers played together for the Rabbitohs during the season but McNamara decided against calling up former Leeds prop Luke, who was a non-playing member of last year’s squad for the autumn internationals.
Sam, 24, was one of the first names on McNamara’s list, along with Canterbury Bulldogs’ former St Helens front rower James Graham.
Both men missed last year’s internationals through injury and suspension respectively and Sinfield believes their return will help offset the loss of experienced forwards Gareth Ellis and Adrian Morley.
Ellis announced his retirement from the international game last week while the non-selection of Morley effectively brings to an end his record 17-year international career.
“If you look down the squad, there are a number of players with quite a few caps now,” said Sinfield, who took over the captaincy when Jamie Peacock stepped down last summer.
“To lose the cornerstone of the pack of the last 10 years is always difficult but we’ve got some fantastic players. Sam has not been part of it for the last couple of years and we missed Jammer (Graham) last year so to have those two back in the fold is fantastic.”
Sinfield is hoping vastly-experienced Wigan loose forward Sean O’Loughlin wins his battle to overcome an Achilles injury which is threatening his participation in Saturday’s Grand Final against Warrington, especially after his Leeds team-mate Jamie Jones-Buchanan pulled out with a knee injury.
“It’s disappointing not having Jack Reed and Jonesy up for selection but to think we’d get here without any injuries would be naive,” Sinfield added.
“Hopefully Lockers can pull through. He’s really important for us. He’s had a brilliant season and, if we can keep guys like that fit we’ll go a long way towards filling the void.”
Sinfield will fly out from Manchester with the advance party on Wednesday afternoon, with the eight players involved in the Grand Final following them to South Africa on Monday.
England will return from the high-altitude training camp three days before playing a warm-up game against Italy at Salford on October 19, a week before their opening World Cup match against Australia in Cardiff.