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Former Manly playmaker Jackson Hastings and ex-North Queensland fullback Lachlan Coote have joined Blake Austin as Australian-born players in the 24-man Great Britain Lions squad for the upcoming tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Hastings, the 2019 Super League Man of Steel, qualifies for Great Britain through a Plymouth-born grandparent, while Coote has previously represented Scotland in the 2016 Four Nations.

Austin, who also qualifies through a grandparent, is set to make his England debut at this weekend's World Cup Nines and the former Canberra five-eighth will stay on for Great Britain's first Lions tour since 2006.

Great Britain coach Wayne Bennett said he had no hesitation in selecting Hastings and Austin on their form in Super League this season after both chose to represent their English heritage over Australia.

"I think they have both been really good so I am looking forward to them being a part of us," Bennett said.

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

Salford offered Hastings a lifeline midway through last season and he helped them to retain their Super League status before leading the Red Devils to the club's first grand final last weekend.

Jackson Hastings in action for Manly in 2018.
Jackson Hastings in action for Manly in 2018. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Hastings edged out Coote, Austin. Canberra-bound Wigan halfback George Williams and Castleford prop Liam Watts to win the Man of Steel as Super League player-of-the-year.

Coote is one of four players from the St Helens team which beat Salford in last weekend's Super League grand final who were selected for the Lions, along with man-of-the-match Luke Thompson, forward Alex Walmsley and halfback Jonny Lomax.

St George Illawarra prop James Graham will captain Great Britain in the absence of Sam Burgess and Sean O'Loughlin, who are both injured, along with St Helens hooker James Roby, winger Tommy Makinson and centre Mark Percival.

Graham, who is set to play his 50th Test against Tonga at Hamilton on October 26, is the only member of the squad to have previously represented the Lions after playing five Tests in 2006 and 2007. He has represented England in 44 Tests.

“It’s very emotional for me," said Graham of the prospect of leading Great Britain for the first time. "It will have a history and tradition, and it’s something that resounds with the fans and our sport.

"They will be four incredibly difficult matches, but the difficulty rating was always going to be high. It’s a challenge for us, but as a group I think we’re going to grow into that challenge.”

Bennett said of Graham: “No-one plays with more pride and passion than he does for his country, I can tell you.”

Warrington-bound Dragons captain Gareth Widdop, South Sydney prop Tom Burgess, Sydney Roosters winger Ryan Hall and Canberra forwards Josh Hodgson, John Bateman and Elliott Whitehead are the other NRL players in the squad.

The absence of Makinson - the 2018 Golden Boot winner - after dislocating his shoulder in the grand final means Hall and Huddersfield's Jermaine McGillvary will be Bennett's first choice wingers.

Wigan fullback Zac Hardaker, who had a stint with Penrith in 2016, was the biggest surprise in the squad, which features six playmakers - Williams, Hastings, Austin, Widdop, Lomax and Castleford's Jake Trueman. 

“I think we’ve got a pretty good squad which is more than representative of the best players in the game in England and Australia," Bennett said.

The Lions face Tonga in Hamilton on 26 October, before playing two Tests against New Zealand in Auckland on November 2 and Christchurch on November 9, and a Test in Papua New Guinea on November 16.

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).

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