Promotion to the Great Britain squad will be up for grabs when England take on John Monie?s France at Headingley tomorrow evening.
Lions coach Brian Noble has left a vacancy in his Gillette Tri-Nations squad and the 17 England players will have first chance to press their claims.
Skipper Chris Thorman and his Huddersfield team-mate Eorl Crabtree, along with Leeds winger Mark Calderwood, are among the players going all out for personal glory after being cut from Noble?s initial 40-strong squad.
?It?s a great carrot that Brian has made available for them,? said coach Karl Harrison.
?There are a lot of guys in this squad who could realistically be in the top squad straight away. Big Eorl Crabtree is very upset that he?s not in. He?s had an outstanding season but there are a lot of quality players in there.
?I think Chris has been really unfortunate not to be selected in the top squad. He?s been an outstanding captain for Huddersfield and it?s an opportunity for his to show those leadership qualities at the next level.?
Thorman, who finished fifth in the points-scoring chart this year after an impressive season with the Giants, is determined to put the disappointment over his failure to make Noble?s final 24-strong squad behind him.
?That?s the only negative,? he said. ?There is no greater honour than to captain your country.
?I?m happy that my efforts for the Giants are been rewarded and hopefully I can take my club form into international form. It?s a great incentive to get into the Great Britain squad.?
France, who won 5-1 when the two countries last met at Headingley in 1981, warmed up for tomorrow?s match with an 80-0 thrashing of Russia in the European Nations Cup.
Their team includes eight players from French champions Les Catalans, who will be making the trip to Headingley in 2006 as part of their Super League campaign.
?Whenever we play the French it is always a tough, physical game,? added Harrison.
?John Monie will have injected some more passion into their team and he knows a lot about the English game so we expect them to be difficult opponents.
?They will want a good showing with Les Catalans joining the Super League next year. A lot of those guys will want to get up to the pace of Super League straight away. It?s a chance for them to prove themselves against the best young players in this country.
?I?m delighted with the squad we?ve put together. To say we?ve had so many players pull out through injury, we?ve still been able to assemble a high-quality group of players and that demonstrates the great health of the game here in England.
?We?ve had this squad together for only three days but I?ve been blown away by the spirit and togetherness that has been on display in this camp.?
England v France, Sunday 23 October 5:45pm, Headingley Stadium Leeds.
England team: Richard Mathers (Leeds Rhinos) Mark Calderwood (Leeds Rhinos) Stuart Reardon (Bradford Bulls) Paul Sykes (London Broncos) Ade Gardner (St Helens) Chris Thorman (Huddersfield Giants, capt) Luke Robinson (Salford City Reds) Eorl Crabtree (Huddersfield Giants) Malcolm Alker (Salford City Reds) Paul Wood (Warrington Wolves) Jamie Jones-Buchanan (Leeds Rhinos) Lee Radford (Bradford Bulls) Chris Charles (Salford City Reds)
Subs (from): Mark Gleeson (Warrington Wolves) Mike Bennett (St Helens) Darrell Griffin (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves) Andy Lynch (Bradford Bulls)
French squad: Renaud Guigue (Catalans) Frederick Zitter (Barrow) Jerome Hermet (Villeneuve) Damien Couturier (Hull KR) Olivier Charles (Villeneuve) Laurent Frayssinous (Catalans) Julien Rinaldi (Catalans) David Ferriol (Limoux) David Berthezene (Catalans) Abdel Fellous (Catalans) Jamel Fakir (Catalans) Sebastien Raguin (Toulouse) Gregory Mounis (Catalans) Jerome Guisset (Catalans) Chirstophe Moly (Carcassonne) Laurent Carrasco (Villeneuve) Maxime Greseque (Pia) Adam Innes (St Gaudens)
Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this preview.Like