Great Britain Lions: Jackson Hastings & Zak Hardaker in 24-man squad

Super League Man of Steel Jackson Hastings has been named in the 24-man Great Britain Lions squad for the tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

The 24-year-old Australian qualifies for Great Britain through a Plymouth-born grandparent and helped Salford reach this season’s Grand Final.

Wigan full-back Zak Hardaker has also been included in Wayne Bennett’s squad, who will be captained by James Graham.

The Lions, touring for the first time since 2007, will play four games.

They face Tonga in New Zealand on 26 October, before two matches against New Zealand and a final fixture against PNG on 16 November.

Full GB Lions squad: James Graham (St George Illawarra Dragons) Blake Austin (Warrington Wolves) John Bateman (Canberra Raiders) Tom Burgess (South Sydney) Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves) Jake Connor (Hull FC) Lachlan Coote (St Helens) Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors) Zak Hardaker (Wigan Warriors) Jackson Hastings (Salford Red Devils) Ryan Hall (Sydney Roosters) Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves) Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders) Jack Hughes (Warrington Wolves) Josh Jones (Salford Red Devils) Jonny Lomax (St Helens) Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants) Joe Philbin (Warrington Wolves) Luke Thompson (St Helens) Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers) Alex Walmsley (St Helens) Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders) Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra Dragons) George Williams (Wigan Warriors).

Warrington are the most represented team, with Blake Austin, Daryl Clark, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes and Joe Philbin all selected, while Grand Final winners St Helens have four players, Lachlan Coote, Jonny Lomax, Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley, in the squad.

Salford’s Josh Jones and Castleford’s Jake Trueman are both included despite never having been capped by England at senior level.

Skipper Graham, 34, could win his 50th Test cap on the tour. The former Saints prop, who made five appearances for the Lions in 2006-07 and is the sole survive from that squad, has since won 44 caps for England.

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Hastings bounces back after Sea Eagles setback

Hastings’ selection in the squad caps off a remarkable 18 months since he was released by NRL side Manly Sea Eagles after a series of off-field issues.

Salford signed the half-back in July 2018 on a deal until the end of the season and he helped them to retain their Super League status.

After signing a one-year extension in October, he starred for the Red Devils in 2019 as they reached a first-ever Grand Final, which they lost to St Helens, and his performances saw him win the Man of Steel award.

The Rugby Football League confirmed earlier this month that he was eligible to play for Great Britain and he is one of three Australia-born players in the squad, along with Austin and Coote.

Saturday’s defeat by Saints was Hastings’ last game for Salford as he will join Wigan for the 2020 season.

More to follow.

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