England play new generation game

Tony Smith's young side face France tonight seeking Four Nations squad places

Tonight could mark the changing of the guard for English rugby league. After the embarrassment of last year's World Cup, most, if not all, of the revamped young side that will play France at the Stade Jean-Bouin will be at this autumn's Four Nations – provided they get the job done this evening.

In the absence of long-established players like Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner, Martin Gleeson, Keith Senior and Leon Pryce, it is time for the new generation to make their mark.

The England coach, Tony Smith, is even willing to pick out individuals. "I'm excited by the half-backs and the way they have been combining," he says of the 19-year-old Richie Myler and Danny McGuire, a veteran of 26. "If they play together anything like the way they have been training, I'll be delighted."

Smith identified the Salford scrum-half Myler as part of his plans last season, playing him in the World Cup warm-up against Wales before he made his Super League debut, although without intending to take him to Australia for the tournament. "He's a talent and I'm not surprised at the way he has developed this season," Smith said.

A player like Shaun Briscoe has had to wait a little longer for recognition at this level. Capped three times, this is the Hull KR full-back's first match as his country's first choice. "You can tell this is the top level when you're rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jamie Peacock and Adrian Morley and learning from the way they conduct themselves," Briscoe said. "It's a great honour and definitely the highlight of my career so far."

The dynamics of this squad are such that, although Briscoe is new, he is a senior player. "I was talking to Danny McGuire and it's strange," he admits, "because we're the oldest players in the backs at 26 – that's how much youth there is."

There is also a wider variety of Super League clubs represented, including Rovers and Huddersfield, who have two players apiece after having none at the World Cup. "There's a better spread of talent, which is a big tick for the salary cap," Briscoe said.

He also warns against under-estimating the French, despite the number of players they will have missing. "Thomas Bosc is no mug and Jean-Philippe Baile has been good for the Catalans all season. They will have other Catalans players around them and, although their league position isn't as good as it was last season, they will play with pride and passion."

Briscoe believes that can only be enhanced by a man he grew up watching from the terraces at Wigan. Bobbie Goulding might have been a jaw-dropping choice as France coach, but Briscoe said he has unique assets. "I remember him as a passionate player who wore his heart on his sleeve and that will transfer itself to his coaching. They will have pride in that French shirt and we have to match that." Goulding said he is unconcerned about the result, provided his players show the same commitment in the match that they have in training. As a former half-back himself, he knows that much will depend on Mickael Murcia, making his debut at the age of 28. "I've seen him three or four times and he's a very good organiser. He's got a good kicking game and he gets a team around the field well," Goulding said.

The player who really excites him, however, is the 19-year-old scrum-half on the bench, William Barthau. "He's only a baby and he hasn't played a first-grade game yet. But he's going to be something special and could be in the squad for the next 15 years."

Goulding said Smith is right to put his faith in youth and that, in players like James Roby, James Graham, Myler, Joe Westerman and Michael Shenton, England have the nucleus of a team for years ahead – and one that could beat Australia. He would just prefer that they did not show their full potential here tonight.

FRANCE: Villegas (Toulouse); Vaccaro (Catalans), Baile (Catalans), Planas (Toulouse), Duport (Catalans); Bosc (Catalans), Murcia (Limoux); Guisset (Catalans, capt), Bentley (Catalans), Casty (Catalans), Gossard (Catalans), Mounis (Catalans), Anselme (Toulouse)

Substitutes: Martins (Pia), Gagliazzo (Carcassonne), Griffi (Toulouse), Barthau (UTC)

ENGLAND: Briscoe (Hull KR); Fox (Hull KR), Shenton (Castleford), Atkins (Wakefield), Hall (Leeds); McGuire (Leeds), Myler (Salford); Morley (Warrington), Roby (St Helens), Graham (St Helens), Peacock (Leeds, capt), Hock (Wigan), Westwood (Warrington)

Substitutes: Burgess (Bradford), Crabtree (Huddersfield), Moore (Huddersfield), Clubb (Harlequins)

Referee: J.Maxwell (Australia)

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little