Formula One: McLaren ready to rise to occasion

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JAMES McLAREN has been tipped for international prominence by his former rugby league coach. The 27-year-old Stirling-born centre is the only uncapped member of the Scotland side who will face Argentina at Murrayfield on Saturday.

McLaren, whose family emigrated to Australia when he was seven, replaces the absent John Leslie for the match which represents the Five Nations champions' biggest test before their World Cup opener against South Africa on 3 October.

The Wakefield Trinity coach, Andy Kelly, does not believe McLaren will have any problems adjusting to the higher standard. "He is a tough, no- nonsense player and a very capable footballer," Kelly said. "When it comes to the physical aspect of the game he is never found wanting. I don't see his introduction into the Scotland side as in any way detrimental to their efforts."

McLaren impressed in Tuesday night's game at McDiarmid Park, when Scotland A came from behind to snatch a 25-25 draw against the Pumas. Scotland's coach, Jim Telfer, opted for McLaren as inside centre rather than switch Alan Tait and put Jamie Mayer on the outside.

The Lansdowne prop Angus McKeen is the only uncapped player in the Ireland team to play Connacht at the Sports Ground, Galway, on Saturday, in the first of four pre-World Cup warm-up matches.

The Australian-born wing Matt Mostyn, who played in both Tests against the Wallabies on Ireland's summer tour, is also selected.

The Newcastle manager, Rob Andrew, who expects to make his comeback in Friday night's warm-up game in Manchester after dislocating a shoulder last season, has signed a two-year extension to his contract with the Falcons which will keep him at the club until September 2002.

Andrew, 36 in February, is determined to continue in a playing capacity with Newcastle as well as being director of rugby. Yesterday he announced that the England Under-21 prop Mick Ward and second row Jimmy Rule plus lock Hugh Vyvyan and Jimmy Cartmell had all signed full-time contracts.

SCOTLAND (v Argentina, Murrayfield, Saturday, 21 August): G Metcalfe (Glasgow Caledonians); C Murray (Edinburgh Reivers), A Tait (Edinburgh Reivers), J McLaren (Bourgoin-Jallieu), K Logan (Wasps), D Hodge (Edinburgh Reivers), G Armstrong (Newcastle, capt), T Smith (Glasgow Caledonians), G Bulloch (Glasgow Caledonians), P Burnell (Montferrand), S Murray (Saracens), S Grimes (Glasgow Caledonians), P Walton (Newcastle), B Pountney (Northampton), S Reid (Narbonne). Replacements: S Longstaff (Glasgow Caledonians), C Chalmers (Glasgow Caledonians), B Redpath (Narbonne), G Simpson (Glasgow Caledonians), D Weir (Newcastle), G Graham (Newcastle), R Russell (Edinburgh Reivers).