League: Three Burgress brothers in England side

George Burgess. Photo / Getty Images
George Burgess. Photo / Getty Images

England have named three Burgess brothers in the squad to face Australia in the rugby league World Cup opener but Canterbury Bulldogs enforcer James Graham was surprisingly left out.

Former England captain Graham was the notable absentee from coach Steve McNamara's 19-man squad for Saturday's match in Cardiff amid speculation he's been stood down for his part in the drinking session which led to Gareth Hock's expulsion from the tournament.

England officials on Thursday refused to comment on Graham's omission but it's believed he has effectively been suspended for one match.

Hock claimed in a BBC interview he was one of "six or seven'' players who broke the seven-day alcohol ban in the wake of England's shock defeat by Italy at Salford on Saturday.

Complaining he had been made a scapegoat, Hock claimed McNamara had told him the other players involved would also be disciplined.

Graham's absence has paved the way for 21-year-old Tom Burgess to win a place in the squad, which will be trimmed to 17 players.

Tom Burgess was left out of the squad that fell to Italy in a warm-up match but he and twin brother George are in line to make their Test debuts alongside older sibling Sam.

It means the trio of brothers, who all play for South Sydney, become the first named together in an England rugby league side.

George and Tom are two of four uncapped players, along with Wigan backrower Liam Farrell and Huddersfield Giants forward Brett Ferres, a late replacement for Hock.

St George Illawarra-bound playmaker Gareth Widdop also made the squad, capping his remarkable return from a serious hip injury suffered playing for Melbourne Storm four months ago.

Leeds star Kevin Sinfield will captain a side that also features fullback Sam Tomkins, the game's most expensive player after he signed for the the New Zealand Warriors next season.

McNamara is confident the 15-14 loss to Italy is now behind his side heading into Saturday's clash at Millennium Stadium.

"The players have trained well all week and we are ready to take on Australia,'' the coach said.

"We have healthy competition for places across all areas.

"The players are aware of this and continue to put in the effort in training to make sure they are prepared and ready for what should be a thrilling game.

"We know we are going to have play well to win.''

England are without forward Sean O'Loughlin after he failed to recover from an Achilles injury.

England squad: Carl Ablett, George Burgess, Sam Burgess, Thomas Burgess, Rob Burrow, Josh Charnley, Rangi Chase, Leroy Cudjoe, Liam Farrell, Brett Ferres, Ryan Hall, Chris Hill, Lee Mossop, James Roby, Kevin Sinfield (capt), Sam Tomkins, Kallum Watkins, Ben Westwood, Gareth Widdop.

- AAP

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