Rugby League: Farrell to make Test debut at 18

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The Independent Online
GREAT BRITAIN have called up their youngest ever forward and two new props for the final Test against New Zealand at Headingley this Saturday, writes Dave Hadfield.

Andrew Farrell, of Wigan, makes his Test debut at 18, with Kelvin Skerrett and Richie Eyres coming in for Karl Harrison and Karl Fairbank in the front row. Harrison has an ankle injury but Eyres, who has never previously started a match at prop, is preferred to Fairbank, who drops to travelling reserve.

Farrell's rapid promotion means that he will have played at Under- 19, Under-21 and full Test level within a month. It would be heady progress for an ordinary player, but Farrell shows such physical and temperamental maturity that there are few fears for him now that he has passed a fitness test on his shoulder. Skerrett has played only two matches after minor knee surgery, but his form before and after his operation has been outstanding.

Not surprisingly, Britain keep the same back division, although there is a slight doubt about Shaun Edwards's shoulder and Deryck Fox stands by as back-up.

New Zealand have brought in the uncapped forward Dave Lomax as a replacement for Gary Mercer. The Leeds second row was due to fill one of the substitutes' places at his home ground but has been ruled out with a hamstring strain, leaving Lomax to join his brother, John, on the bench.

The Kiwis assessed the form of Widnes' Esene Faimalo in their match against the club on Tuesday, but have opted to draft in a member of their touring party.

Even without Mercer, Leeds still have four players spread between the two sides and have exercised their right to postpone Sunday's game against Widnes.

GREAT BRITAIN (v New Zealand, Headingley, Saturday): Davies (Warrington); Devereux (Widnes), Connolly (Wigan), Newlove (Bradford), Offiah (Wigan); Schofield (Leeds, capt), Edwards (Wigan); Skerrett (Wigan), L Jackson (Sheffield), Eyres (Leeds), Farrell (Wigan), Joynt (St Helens), Clarke (Wigan). Substitutes: Tait (Leeds), Nickle (St Helens), Powell (Sheffield), M Jackson (Halifax) Travelling reserves: Fox (Bradford), Fairbank (Bradford).