Teenager Walker steps up in world

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The Independent Online

Chev Walker, with just 17 years and 17 first-team appearances behind him, is the most startling inclusion in England's squad for the World Cup next month.

Chev Walker, with just 17 years and 17 first-team appearances behind him, is the most startling inclusion in England's squad for the World Cup next month.

Walker has been named in a 24-man party despite his youth and inexperience because, as the England coach John Kear put it: "He's a very, very able player and, if he gets his opportunity, he will seize it."

Walker had only set himself the target of playing half a dozen games for Leeds this year.

"I only set myself short-term goals, but the coach Dean Lance took me aside and said I should be aiming higher," he said.

"Richie Blackmore's injury gave me a chance to play more games and I like to think that if I get a chance I could step up to international football."

In a squad not over-burdened with options at wing and centre, Walker could get that chance.

Almost certain to be involved is Bradford's Leon Pryce, whose 19th birthday on 9 October makes him exactly a year older than Walker.

He is one of nine players from the Bulls, including more of the new breed in Paul Deacon, Jamie Peacock and Stuart Fielden. Surprisingly there is no place for the proven ability of Brian McDermott at prop.

He has been edged out by Harvey Howard, who played with success for the Brisbane Broncos this year, and Francis Stephenson, the Wakefield front row, who is expected to join Wigan this week.

Other talking points in the squad are the selection of Adrian Morley as vice-captain to Andy Farrell, the absence of any players from Castleford, where Darren Rogers and Danny Orr can consider themselves unlucky, and the choice of only one specialist hooker in Paul Rowley.

Kear is putting his faith in players such as Deacon and Wigan's Tony Smith, who have been used as part-time hookers during club games.

Smith gets in despite missing much of the season through injury, as does Wigan team-mate, Simon Haughton, whose impact off the bench has been his main recommendation.

England's opening examination comes against the world champions Australia at Twickenham on 28 October.

The virus that ruled Anthony Sullivan out of Friday's deciding Super League game against Wigan has started to spread through the St Helens camp and is now affecting Keiran Cunningham.

The Rugby League's director of rugby, Greg McCallum, is assessing whether Bradford should face punishment for fielding an under-strength side at Hull on Sunday.

Huddersfield has announced the signing of Andrew Frew, regarded as one of the fastest players in Australia.

ENGLAND SQUAD (Lincoln Financial Group World Cup): Anderson (Bradford), Cummins (Leeds), Deacon (Bradford), Farrell (Wigan, capt), Fielden (Bradford), Fleary (Leeds), Forshaw (Bradford), Haughton (Wigan), Howard (Brisbane), Long (St Helens), McAvoy (Bradford), Morley (Leeds), Naylor (Bradford), Peacock (Bradford), Pryce (Bradford), Radlinski (Wigan), Rowley (Halifax), Sculthorpe (St Helens), Senior (Leeds), Sinfield (Leeds), Smith (Wigan), Spruce (Bradford), Stephenson (Wakefield), Walker (Leeds).

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