Deacon still in favour as Noble lines up Bradford connection

Deacon lasted 25 minutes against New Zealand last Saturday and was widely expected to lose his place to Richard Horne. When the squad was trimmed to 18 yesterday, however, it was the Hull half-back who missed out, with Deacon teaming up with his Bulls partner, Iestyn Harris.

"They've shown over the last 12 weeks how good they are together," said the Great Britain captain, Jamie Peacock, another of the seven Grand Final-winning Bradford players in the starting line-up.

Noble said: "Richard Horne is probably unlucky to miss out. We looked at all permutations, but Iestyn and Paul have been together for a while now."

Harris is determined to play, even if his partner gives birth to their child on the day of the match.

Noble said that it was "never an issue" to leave out Brian Carney, despite his traumatic time at Loftus Road last weekend.

As expected, Adrian Morley starts at prop, with Peacock reverting to the second row and Kevin Sinfield switching from stand-off to loose forward.

The St Helens assistant coach, Dave Rotheram, has been confirmed as the new coach at Whitehaven, succeeding Steve McCormack, who has joined Widnes.

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