Rugby League: Newlove back in fold: Centre returns to Test duty

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PEACE has been declared between Paul Newlove and Great Britain. The Bradford Northern centre who 'retired' from international rugby during the furore over his unwillingness to play in the World Sevens in Australia last month has been named in the squad for the Test in Carcassonne, France, on 20 March.

Strong things were said on both sides but that was all forgotten yesterday as Newlove was welcomed back into the fold.

'The Great Britain coach, Malcolm Reilly, was anxious to put out his best possible side for this, the last match before the Australian tour next autumn,' Harry Gration, the Rugby League's public affairs executive, said. 'He asked Paul if he wanted to play for Great Britain. Paul said he did and that's the end of the matter.'

Despite Newlove's welcome change of heart, there is still room in a 19-man squad for Wigan's Barrie-Jon Mather, the only uncapped player selected.

There are a number of notable returnees to the Test scene. Lee Crooks is now over 30 and his last Test was in 1992, but his current form for Castleford made him impossible to ignore. Also back are Crooks' team-mate, St John Ellis, and another in-form winger, John Bentley of Halifax.

Garry Schofield is again captain, but there is no place for Andy Platt, whose form and fitness have been unconvincing and whose availability after he leaves Wigan for the Auckland Warriors at the end of this season must be in some doubt.

GREAT BRITAIN SQUAD (v France, Test match, Carcassonne, 20 March) Backs: J Bentley (Halifax), G Connolly (Wigan), J Davies (Warrington), S Edwards (Wigan), S J Ellis, M Ford (both Castleford), P Newlove (Bradford Northern), M Offiah (Wigan), D Powell (Sheffield Eagles), G Schofield (Leeds, capt), G Steadman (Castleford). Forwards: L Crooks (Castleford), M Dermott (Wigan), K Fairbank (Bradford Northern), A Farrell (Wigan), C Joynt (St Helens), B-J Mather (Wigan), P Moriarty (Widnes), K Skerrett (Wigan).