Reilly has spent much of his seven years as national coach looking for forwards with the size and strength to take on the Australian giants, so the selection of the compact Cassidy represents something of a departure. 'I wish he was 6ft 2in,' admitted Reilly. 'But he has been playing so well and his versatility in being able to play hooker is a great attraction.'
Cassidy joins Andy Farrell and Barrie-Jon Mather in progressing from the back-row of Wigan's reserve-team pack to the full Test squad in less than a year. Also added to the party for France yesterday were the Featherstone prop, Steve Molloy, who replaces Wigan's Kelvin Skerrett, ruled out with a leg injury, and Lee Jackson, who takes over from his rival, Martin Dermott, because of the Wigan man's calf strain. Also out is Jonathan Davies, whose dead-leg from Wales' match against France has now been complicated by knee problems.
Both Molloy, who won his only cap against France last season, and Jackson seem certain to feature in the starting line- up, but Cassidy might have to be satisfied with a place on the bench or as a travelling reserve. Reilly will finalise his team to play a French side which is showing some signs of a revival, after training at St Helens tomorrow.
Warrington, who have four players in the Under-19 Academy side which is also playing in Carcassonne, have opted to call off their league match at Leigh this Sunday.
St Helens hope to play their injured international forwards, George Mann and Sonny Nickle, in their A team at Leeds tomorrow night, to give them a chance to prove their fitness before their Silk Cut Challenge Cup semi-final, also against Leeds, on 26 March.Reuse content