England coach Steve McNamara considered including all four Sydney-based Burgess brothers in his World Cup squad before taking the tough decision to leave one out.
Former Bradford forward Sam, 24, who has been on the international scene for the past six years, was an automatic selection and George, 21, became an obvious choice following a stellar first full season in the NRL in which he was on Tuesday named rookie of the year.
McNamara also opted to include George's twin Tom in his 24-strong squad, which left Luke, at 26 the oldest of the quartet, on the outside.
Luke, who made 93 appearances for Leeds from 2008-11, was in England's squad for the 2012 autumn international series but was not selected in any of the matches.
All four brothers, who played together for South Sydney in an NRL match against Wests Tigers in August, were contacted individually by McNamara to be told the news.
"As well as making the nice phone calls, you've got to make the ones that are not so nice," McNamara said.
"It's very tough, I can only imagine what it must feel like to have your three brothers in a World Cup squad and you're not part of it.
"But it's part and parcel of the game and I'm sure Luke understands that.
"It would have been a marketing dream to have had all four but it was based on what I feel is best for performance.
"There are a number of players who are unfortunate not the make the squad. It's been a difficult selection."
Huddersfield prop Eorl Crabtree was the most notable omission after he was named in the 2013 Super League Dream Team but McNamara says there could still be changes to his squad before the opening game against Australia on October 26.
"We've got a Grand Final to get through, a very intense training camp and a game against Italy so there could quite well be some changes," said McNamara, who has added Huddersfield second-rower Brett Ferres to the advance party of 16 which will fly to South Africa on Wednesday for a high-altitude training camp.
"Basically anybody who has been involved in our elite training squad is on standby - Luke and Chris (Heighington) are ready to go in Australia if needed - and some will play for England Knights against Samoa."
Tom Burgess, who has just finished his first season with the Rabbitohs, was the last of the three brothers to be informed of his call-up after he overcame an injury scare.
"There was some element of doubt over his fitness but he's had scans on his neck and he's 100% fine," McNamara said. "I spoke to the club's medical staff and (coach) Michael Maguire and he's good to go.
"Tom is a bit of a bolter. We included him, as well as George, in the England Knights programme last year so we had one eye on the World Cup but I think he was an outside chance at that stage. Obviously we've been monitoring him closely and I feel he can make a real impact in this squad."
It is the first time that three brothers have been included in an England squad and they will be aiming to emulate the Hendersons - Kevin, Ian and Andrew - who all played for Scotland in the last World Cup in 2008.
McNamara confirmed that Leeds second-row forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan had been ruled out by a knee injury, joining Brisbane centre Jack Reed on the sidelines.
However, he expects Wigan loose forward Sean O'Loughlin to recover in time from an Achilles problem and allayed fears over the fitness of Leeds centre Kallum Watkins after he struggled during last Friday's semi-final defeat by the Warriors.
The coach also announced that St Helens' former England full-back Paul Wellens, 33, will join the backroom staff, working alongside assistant coach Paul Deacon on game day.
McNamara will fly out to Johannesburg with the advance party from Manchester on Wednesday, with Canterbury Bulldogs prop James Graham and Melbourne stand-off Gareth Widdop joining the Burgess brothers on a flight from Sydney, while the eight Wigan and Warrington players involved in Saturday's Super League Grand Final will join them in South Africa on Monday.
"We've been preparing for this tournament for the best part of three years," McNamara said.
"Now we'll start to fine-tune our preparations for game one. We're obviously going to get ourselves in physical condition, either freshen people up or work them harder, depending on their individual circumstance and how much rugby league they've played over the last few weeks."
England's 24-man World Cup squad is: Carl Ablett (Leeds), Tom Briscoe (Hull), George Burgess, Sam Burgess, Tom Burgess (all South Sydney), Rob Burrow (Leeds), Josh Charnley (Wigan), Rangi Chase (Castleford), Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield), Liam Farrell (Wigan), James Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs).
Ryan Hall (Leeds), Zak Hardaker (Leeds), Chris Hill (Warrington), Gareth Hock (Widnes), Michael McIlorum (Wigan), Lee Mossop (Wigan), Sean O'Loughlin (Wigan), James Roby (St Helens), Kevin Sinfield (Leeds, capt), Sam Tomkins (Wigan), Kallum Watkins (Leeds), Ben Westwood (Warrington), Gareth Widdop (Melbourne).