Leeds Rhinos star Cameron Smith, Hull KR men Jez Litten and Elliot Minchella and Wigan Warriors centre Jake Wardle were among the surprise absentees from the England squad.
Wardle’s was explained by injury which is also true of St Helens stars Jonny Lomax and Alex Walmsley.
The squad, as ever, prompted a lot of division. Now, speaking to Serious About Rugby League, Barrie McDermott had his say on Shaun Wane’s England squad for the three game series against Tonga.
McDermott said: “I was pretty happy with the squad. You can always find somebody that you’d want in, you always put a case forward and when fans follow a club they watch their club week in week out and they think their players deserve it.
“I’m pretty happy with the squad overall. It’s obviously about building. They need to win and Tonga are a formidable team to play against. They need to win. But I also think as well it’s got the right balance of youth and experience.
“There’s nobody really that I look at it where’s there’s no glaring people that should have got the call and didn’t to me so I’m pretty good with it.”
Those big absentees were of course a major talking points. But McDermott quite rightly pointed out that it could be a major boost of motivation.
“I do look at selection and non-selection still with my players hat on, if a player doesn’t get selected then it should absolutely fuel them and be a burning desire to prove that omission was a mistake and it should form your motivation for the off-season.
“So, we can talk about Cam Smith, we can talk about Jake Wardle, we can talk about players who missed out on selection but I see the clubs only benefiting from those players being available from the first day of pre-season and ultra motivated.
“Our game is full of disappointment and nobody gets nobody gets a career that’s always about the brights and the highs, it’s always about handling the lows and making sure you as a professional athlete look after your body and control what you can control.”