Fox completes rapid rise to earn England call-up

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The Independent Online

Tony Smith, the England coach, has given hope to every young player whose career appears to have stalled by naming the Hull KR winger, Peter Fox, as one of his newcomers for the Test in France this Friday.

Fox, along with the 18-year-old Castleford loose forward, Joe Westerman, is in line for his international debut in Toulouse, something that would have seemed unbelievable when he was playing for York in National League 2 less than two years ago.

"It sends out a message that, if you have the enthusiasm, anything is possible," said Smith, who was Leeds' coach when the Rhinos allowed Fox to go out on loan to York and later to sign for Wakefield. "If you'd told me two years ago that I'd be here today, I probably wouldn't have believed it." said the 23-year-old Fox.

After a steady season with Wakefield, Fox moved to Rovers this year and has been a regular for them, scoring eight tries so far. He gets his chance because Smith's first choice, Gareth Raynor of Hull, has a thigh injury, although he could recover sufficiently to play for his club this weekend.

Harlequins' Rikki Sheriffe was also considered, but he too is carrying an injury, so Fox, whose previous representative experience is an Under-16's tour to Australia, gets his opportunity.

So, at some stage, will Westerman. A prodigiously talented forward, he is already pencilled in for this autumn's World Cup squad, although he might only be taken to France for the experience this time.

Smith has selected 16 players in his 19-man squad who appeared in the series whitewash of New Zealand last year. The other exception is the Warrington back-rower, Ben Westwood who has put himself forward through some no-nonsense performances.

The current balance of power in Super League is reflected in a total of seven players from St Helens and six from Leeds.

With Gareth Hock and Sean O'Loughlin injured and Stuart Fielden still striving for his old form, there is no representative from Wigan – another sign of the times.

Martin Gleeson, who will start at centre, is looking for a club in Australia, with Warrington keen to recruit Jamie Lyon to replace him.

France have named a squad which includes 10 members of the Catalan Dragons side.

England squad: Burgess (Bradford), Burrow (Leeds), Ellis (Leeds), Fa'asavalu (St Helens), Fox (Hull KR), Gardner (St Helens), Gleeson (Warrington), Graham (St Helens), McGuire (Leeds), Morley (Warrington), Peacock (Leeds), Pryce (St Helens), Roby (St Helens), Senior (Leeds), Sinfield (Leeds), Wellens (St Helens), Westerman (Castleford), Westwood (Warrington), Wilkin (St Helens).

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