Devereux can fire Welsh ambition

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THE European Championship might not denote a great deal in the game at the moment, but it is long enough since Wales tasted success in it to give today's decider in Carcassonne some importance.

When Wales last won this sporadically contested tournament, by beating England at Odsal and France at Llanelli in 1938, legends like Jim Sullivan and Gus Risman were in their side. Some of this afternoon's Welsh representatives are more legendary in the Pennines than the Valleys, but victory will be none the less sweet for that.

Wales should be good enough to do it. With Jonathan Davies and Allan Bateman able to make the trip and John Devereux restored to fitness, they look more convincing than a French side who performed with some credit against England in Gateshead but who have been forced by injury into a series of changes in the forwards.

Perhaps the hardest decision for the Welsh manager and coach, Mike Nicholas and Clive Griffiths, has been to relegate Phil Ford to the bench in order to accommodate the return of Devereux.

It is treatment that Ford, always a lively presence in Welsh sides since the national side was re-formed three and a half years ago, will not relish, but Devereux is such a potentially destructive player that it had to be done.

In the absence of the Wigan clan of Englishmen who have chosen to be regarded as Welsh, there is an important role for a Welshman at Central Park today.

Scott Quinnell will play prop against Workington Town today in the absence of Kelvin Skerrett and Neil Cowie. Wigan signed Quinnell for his supposed aptitude for a place in their back row, but it has been at prop over the past two weeks that he has started to look comfortable in league.

On the face of it, Wigan are taking a risk going ahead with the fixture today in the absence of their two props, plus Martin Hall and Paul Atcheson. But they have the depth to cover for the missing players, being able, for instance, to call upon the former Great Britain hooker Martin Dermott. Workington, with their Challenge Cup tie at Leeds next week on their minds, will probably feel the lack of Kevin Ellis and Rowland Phillips, both with important roles to play in Carcassonne, more keenly. The Cumbrians will also leave out at least a couple of other key players, their priority obviously being to have them fit for Headingley next week.

Another side who could be excused for thinking more about next Sunday are Oldham, who have a visit from Wakefield Trinity to interrupt their preparations for their quarter-final Cup tie against Huddersfield.

For Batley and Keighley, however, Cup humiliations last weekend leave them with nothing but their promotion ambitions on which to concentrate when they meet today.

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