Briscoe in as luck deserts O'Loughlin

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The Independent Online

England have called up the 19-year-old Hull winger, Tom Briscoe, for the Four Nations as Sean O'Loughlin's wretched luck at international level continues.

The Wigan captain broke his thumb in the warm-up match against Wales on Saturday. That comes after missing the World Cup last year for a shoulder operation and the match in France this June with a gashed knee.

"Sean is pretty devastated and we're sorry that he won't be with us for the Four Nations," said the England coach, Tony Smith.

Briscoe is hardly a like-for-like replacement for O'Loughlin, who is normally a loose forward. He played centre at Bridgend, however, and was earmarked for a more wide-running role in the Four Nations.

"We have plenty of strength in the forwards and adequate cover in the pack, so there was no need to bring in another forward," Smith said.

Instead, he has promoted Briscoe, who missed most of last season at Hull with ruptured ankle ligaments, but scored two tries in a confident display against Wales. "The call came right out of the blue," he said. "I wasn't expecting it, but it's made my week."

Smith plans to name an 18-man squad today for the opening fixture of the tournament against France on Friday night.