McNamara spoilt for choice in replacing Shenton

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The Independent Online

The England coach, Steve McNamara, is looking at a surprisingly wide range of options to replace Michael Shenton against Australia on Sunday. The Castleford centre, bound for St Helens next season, has been ruled out of the match with ankle ligament damage and could be out of the whole of the Four Nations.

"We will be without him this week and we'll have to see how he is for the rest of the tournament," McNamara said. "He keeps telling me he heals pretty quickly. It was incredible how he did what he managed to do on Saturday, but he's very tough and competitive."

Despite the blow of losing Shenton, McNamara has a number of possible replacements up his sleeve. "Tony Clubb and Leroy Cudjoe haven't played yet, but they have been very impressive. Then there is Gareth Widdop." You can add to that the fact that Gareth Ellis and Darrell Goulding started as centres and Tom Briscoe will almost certainly finish up there and there are almost too many options.

McNamara does not need to worry about the fitness of his other centre, with Ryan Atkins fully recovered from his collision with a goal-post during the defeat by New Zealand.

Leeds have brought forward the changing of the guard, following the resignation of Brian McClennan as their head coach. McClennan, who agreed a new one-year contract in May, is replaced by Brian McDermott, who left Harlequins to become his assistant at the end of the season.

The New Zealander won back-to-back Super League titles in his first two years in charge at Leeds, but finished empty-handed last season.