Sculthorpe takes over Great Britain captaincy

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The Independent Online

Paul Sculthorpe has been given the job for which he has always been destined - taking over from Andy Farrell as Great Britain captain.

The national coach, Brian Noble, yesterday announced the logical succession, with Sculthorpe taking over following Farrell's move to rugby union.

"Andy has been one of the legends of the game and I've learned a lot playing under him since 1996," the 27-year-old St Helens loose forward said. "He leaves a big pair of boots to fill, but I'm confident of my ability to do it."

Noble said that he had given the captaincy lengthy thought. "But usually your initial feeling is the right one," he said. "You don't make a player vice-captain if you don't see him being captain in due course."

The new second-in-command is Noble's captain at Bradford, Jamie Peacock. "When Nobby told me, it was the proudest day of my life," said Peacock, who has impressed many with his leadership qualities this year.

For all that, Sculthorpe remains the logical choice to try to do what Farrell failed to achieve by beating Australia in the Tri-Nations this autumn. "Andy did a great job in improving rugby league in this country," he said. "Hopefully, I can go on to complete the job."

The Sculthorpe effect could be detected in the presence of his Saints team-mates, Sean Long and Keiron Cunningham, neither of whom have looked certain starters this autumn, in the 40-man squad that will assemble for a training camp in July.

The main talking point in that party is the return of Kevin Sinfield, contentiously left out of last season's Tri-Nations. The Leeds captain has responded to that disappointment by being the outstanding player in Super League so far this year.

There is no place, however, for another of last season's controversial omissions - the Bradford half-back, Paul Deacon. "Paul has been playing hooker and making a good fist of it," his club coach said. "He could still be in the shake-up if he is playing well at the end of the season. The door isn't shut on anybody."

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