England look to future with choice of Farrell

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The Independent Online
The Wigan loose forward, Andrew Farrell, will lead his country shortly after his 21st birthday in this season's European Championship.

Farrell was named yesterday as England's captain for the tournament next month, with a strong hint that he could also captain Great Britain on their Southern hemisphere tour in September and October.

"We have half a dozen club captains in the squad, but I am looking to the future and for continuity," Phil Larder, the England coach, said.

"It's important that we have someone who, unless there is a massive loss of form, will be in the starting line-up for both England and Great Britain.

"Andy falls into that category. He has the respect of the players and I was very impressed by the way he captained England in the Fiji Nines."

Farrell, who does not reach the age of 21 for another eight days, is thought to be the youngest player to captain England or Great Britain, but the records are vague over whether Harold Wagstaffe may have led England at an even younger age before the First World War.

Farrell's main rival for the job was Bobbie Goulding, who has captained St Helens with great success so far this season.

Ironically, Farrell's selection leaves the door to an international recall ajar for his club captain, Shaun Edwards, who could contest the scrum- half role with Goulding.

The Welsh coach, Clive Griffiths, has warned that their national side could collapse unless the Rugby League gives the go-ahead for a side based in Cardiff to join the Super League next season.

"If we have a Super League side, there will be no reason anymore for players like David Young and Scott Quinnell to be lost to rugby league," Griffiths said. "But players, sponsors and everyone else in Wales need to know."

The chairmen of Super League clubs have already given their approval to the idea of fast-tracking the South Wales side into the top division, but that cannot be confirmed until the next meeting of the Rugby League Council, which is not until 3 July.

Griffiths fears that delay can only harm Welsh prospects and would like to see that meeting brought forward.

Wales, the reigning European champions who play the opening match of the tournament against France in Carcassonne on 5 June, have confirmed Young as their captain, despite his contract to return to rugby union with Cardiff next season.

"It never crossed my mind to drop out of the European Championship," Young said. "Ideally, I would like to carrying on playing rugby league for Wales even after I go to Cardiff."

Meanwhile, France have player-drain problems of their own. Paris St-Germain's Polish prop, Gregory Kacala, has already left to play rugby union for Tarbes, while the New Zealand-born second row forward, Darren Adams, is also a target for union clubs.

Leeds, whose victory over Paris is one of only two in Super League, are hoping to sign the Huddersfield back, Marcus St Hilaire.

"We are interested, but not at the price Huddersfield want," Hugh McGahan, the club's football manager, said.