Irish McIlorum called up by England

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The Independent Online

Wigan's Irish international hooker, Michael McIlorum, has been called up by England to fill the gap in their squad to face the Exiles on Friday.

He is the replacement for the first choice, James Roby, who fractured his eye-socket playing for St Helens against Leeds on Friday night. But the England coach, Steve McNamara, has decided against naming a stand-in for Huddersfield's Danny Brough, who strained ankle ligaments against Castleford on Sunday.

McIlorum previously played for Ireland in the 2008 World Cup, under the grandparent rule. "I enjoyed playing for Ireland, but you want to test yourself against the best in the world and that is why I opted for the country of my birth," he said. "It came as a bit of a surprise, but I am absolutely delighted to be given this chance." While acknowledging that Roby is a loss, McNamara expressed complete confidence in the Wigan man: "Michael is just the sort of person you need for a match against the Exiles. He's tough, tenacious and someone who will never take a backward step."

McNamara believes he has enough cover in his squad for Brough, the former Scottish international who was earmarked for the scrum-half role. Richard Myler and Luke Robinson are now his alternatives, although Robinson could equally well be regarded as a hooker, a job he has done with distinction for Huddersfield this season. McNamara will finalise his 18-man squad for the innovative mid-season international tomorrow.

The Exiles coach, Brian McClennan, has finalised his 18-man squad by omitting Michael Monaghan, Josh Perry, Steve Menzies and Brent Webb from his original party of 22. Monaghan and Perry have been left out because their clubs, Warrington and St Helens, have three other players each involved in Exiles duty.

The Rugby League is investigating the clash of shirts that delayed the kick-off between Huddersfield and Castleford. Both teams arrived at Halifax, where the game was moved because of re-seeding at the Galpharm stadium, with predominantly white change strips. Cas eventually played in a spare set of Halifax shirts.