Rugby League: Pauls both old and new for England

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The Independent Online
TWO Pauls - Sterling and Deacon - from opposite ends of the age range are the most eye-catching selections in the 21-man England squad to face Wales next month. Although the side will carry the title Emerging England, his 33 years have not counted against Sterling, whose form for Leeds has marked him out as the best uncapped winger in the country this season.

"Age is no barrier if you are playing well enough," said the England and Great Britain coach, Andy Goodway, who has demonstrated an equally open-minded attitude towards young players by selecting the 19-year-old scrum-half Deacon, who has yet to start a Super League game for Bradford since arriving from Oldham this winter.

"Deacon and Paul Johnson of Wigan played consistently in the Academy last season and we are looking for some form of production line to give us some continuity," Goodway said.

The side that will meet the Welsh at Widnes on 19 July will be captained from stand-off by Steve Blakeley, one of five players from Salford selected.

The Super League leaders, Leeds, also have five in the squad, including a first international call-up for Darren Fleary, who has been arguably the form prop in the competition so far. St Helens' Sean Long and the Sheffield pair of Steve Molly and Keith Senior are the only players in the squad with full Great Britain caps.

Their team-mate, Dale Laughton, is one obvious absentee among Super League's form players, because he has already opted to play for Scotland.

The Welsh coach, Clive Griffiths, will name his squad in two weeks' time and there is the prospect of several players who have returned to rugby union making themselves available.

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