Rugby League: Currier back in favour for Britain

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The Independent Online
ANDY CURRIER, the Widnes centre, has proved that there is life after being written off as an international failure by winning a recall to the Great Britain squad to play France in Carcassonne on 7 March, writes Dave Hadfield.

Currier has played just one Test, against New Zealand in 1989, and performed so poorly at Old Trafford that day that he has been well back in the queue ever since.

His recent form for Widnes has been good enough to wipe the slate clean. A formidable blend of size and speed in attack, he has also improved his much-criticised defence during a period of his career which, ironically, has been spent on the Widnes transfer list.

With an abundance of centres but only one specialist wing in the squad, Currier could be a contender for a place on the flank against the French.

His Widnes team-mate, Stuart Spruce, is one of three uncapped players named. The others are David Lyon, who has advanced his claim to be Britain's best full-back since joining St Helens this season, and Mike Ford, the Castleford scrum-half. Ford, like Spruce, played for England against Wales in November.

Allan Bateman, the Warrington and Wales centre, is one of four players with only one cap to their credit. The forwards in that category, Sonny Nickle and Steve McNamara, have been used only as substitutes and may have to wait a little longer for their full debuts.

Although the starting line-up will not be named until next week, the pack looks likely to be based solidly on Wigan's forward power. The probable front five will consist entirely of players from Central Park, with the club's former captain, Ellery Hanley, now with Leeds, at loose forward.

Malcolm Reilly, the Great Britain coach, has been criticised in the past for selecting Hanley when his form and fitness did not justify it, but the player's recent displays make his choice this time wholly unsurprising.

GREAT BRITAIN SQUAD (v France, Carcassone, 7 March): Backs: Bateman (Warrington), Connolly (St Helens), Currier (Widnes), Edwards (Wigan), Ford (Castleford), Lyon (St Helens), Newlove (Featherstone Rovers), Offiah (Wigan), Schofield (Leeds, capt), Spruce (Widnes). Forwards: Betts (Wigan), Clarke (Wigan), Dermott (Wigan), Eyres (Widnes), Hanley (Leeds), McNamara (Hull), Nickle (St Helens), Platt (Wigan), Skerrett (Wigan).