Betts wants to help out England in World Cup

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The Independent Online

Denis Betts still wants to be involved in England's bid for the World Cup this autumn despite his decision to stand down as an international player.

Denis Betts still wants to be involved in England's bid for the World Cup this autumn despite his decision to stand down as an international player.

Betts, who played for England in the last World Cup Final in 1995, is in his best form since rejoining Wigan from the Auckland Warriors at the start of last season and it is to safeguard his club career that he has made himself unavailable for John Kear's squad.

"There comes a time to step aside," said Betts, who plays for Wigan at Hull tomorrow night. "There are a lot of good young back-rowers around. I thought I would be one of those players who wants to play for his country as long as they pick him, but if I am going to fulfil my club commitments for the next three years I am going to have to look after myself."

Betts told Kear of his intention during Great Britain's ill-fated Tri-Series in Australia and New Zealand last autumn and has now confirmed that he intends to retire from international rugby.

He will, however, make his vast experience available to the squad. "If John can use me in any way, I'll be glad to do it," he said.

Apart from back-rowers already established as internationals, such as his Wigan team-mate Andy Farrell, the Australia-bound Adrian Morley and St Helens' Paul Sculthorpe, Betts has nominated Bradford's Jamie Peacock as his natural successor. "He's on fire at the moment and deserves his chance," he said.

For tomorrow's game at the Boulevard Wigan have the young forward Rob Ball, standing by in case Terry Newton fails a fitness test on his foot. If Newton is out, Mark Smith will start at hooker, with Ball coming on to the bench for his first appearance of the season. Hull have Craig Wilson and Adam Maher back and have hopes of Paul Broadbent's return as well.

Halifax have sacked Martin Pearson, the day after the stand-off was suspended until the end of the year following a positive test for Ecstasy. Pearson escaped a ban after showing high levels of testosterone earlier in the season by claiming that he had taken a legal dietary supplement.

Robert Smyth is in line to make his debut for Warrington at home to Huddersfield-Sheffield. The winger has arrived from the London Broncos in a swap for Jon Roper, and Warrington also have Danny Nutley, Dean Busby and Toa Kohe-Love back in the squad. Tawera Nikau is suspended and David Highton injured.

The League leaders, Bradford, are at Wakefield and have their influential Australian loose-forward, Brad Mackay, back after a side strain. Trinity have Willie Poching and Warren Jowitt suspended to weaken their pack for the formidable test.

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