Whitehead picked for Denver Test
South Sydney prop George Burgess has been recalled to the England team and will be one of six NRL players travelling with coach Wayne Bennett to Denver for the historic June 23 Test against New Zealand at Mile High Stadium.
Burgess joins his brothers Sam and Tom, Canberra's Elliott Whitehead and St George Illawarra duo James Graham and Gareth Widdop in the 19-man England squad named on Monday night.
The 26-year-old made his Test debut for England at the 2013 World Cup but has not been a member of Bennett's team since the 2016 Four Nations series.
After being overlooked for last year's World Cup, Burgess supported his brothers and the England team while undergoing a rigorous pre-season training program with the Rabbitohs that he credits for his return to top form.
He joins debutants Tommy Makinson and Luke Thompson from St Helens and Hull FC's Jake O'Connor as new faces in the squad which narrowly lost last December's World Cup final 6-0 to Australia.
"I have selected a strong squad that I believe has the ability and talent to beat New Zealand in Denver," Bennett said.
"The game is going to be a tough one but we will go into it with confidence.
"We have always been clear that the door to the senior squad is open to any player showing the form to be selected.
"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 on and off the field.
"The squad has a real mix of experience and youth and that will prove important in Denver.
"Playing a mid-season Test against Samoa last year proved invaluable and I'm sure this will be the same. It gives the team a chance to spend time together and me and my coaching staff to see how they perform together against one of the best teams in the world ahead of the international Test series in autumn."
The Burgess brothers will begin preparing for the trip to Denver after Thursday night's clash with Parramatta and will not line up with South Sydney again until the July 1 game against the Cowboys in Cairns. The Rabbitohs have a bye the following week.
However, Widdop and Graham are due to play against the Eels on June 28 - just two days after returning from America.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor revealed on Monday that the club would send a high-performance manager to Denver to monitor Widdop's and Graham's fitness.
The Test will be played during the representative window in the NRL and Super League competitions, which include the stand-alone State of Origin and the Pacific Test double-header at Campbelltown.
St Helens have the greatest representation of players in the England squad, with five of the 13 Super League-based players selected, while Wigan Warriors provide three members of the squad, including Raiders recruitment target John Bateman, captain Sean O'Loughlin and halfback George Williams.
England squad: 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