Gloucester to blood Paul as centre and goal-kicker

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The Independent Online

Henry Paul is likely to get a bit scorched this weekend. The former Bradford and New Zealand rugby league player is being lined up to make his debut for Gloucester against Caerphilly in the Parker Pen Shield at Kingsholm on Saturday.

In addition at having to convince demanding denizens of the infamous Shed that he is worthy of their adulation and his salary, the New Zealander will also have to take on the responsibility for the goal-kicking because Ludovic Mercier is being given the day off.

Mercier has not done too badly with 145 points in all matches, but Paul is no slouch with the boot. Although a stand-off by inclination, it is likely that Paul will make his bow in the centre, with the insiders' money on outside centre, although there is an outside chance he could appear at inside centre. Ultimately the plan is for Paul to take over at outside-half with Mercier possibly dropping to full-back.

Nick Mallett, the former South Africa coach is being linked to the unexpected vacancy that has arisen at the French club Castres. Alain Galliard resigned as their coach earlier this week following a 39-25 trouncing at Bordeaux-Bègles last weekend. Galliard's assistant, Jean-François Beltran, will take charge of the side for their visit to Harlequins in the Heineken Cup on Sunday.

When asked about his interest in the post yesterday, Mallett indicated that if approached for the job he would have to discuss matters with his family. He has no coaching job at present and has made no secret of the fact that he would like to work in France. He had, in any case, planned to return to coaching next year.

Rotherham, relegated from the Premiership last season, have half a dozen players in a 22-man National Divisions squad from which a side will be picked to face the Australians when their tour gets under way at Leicester on Sunday.

The side will be captained by the Yorkshire club's hooker Chris Johnson and he will have the experience of former Bath and England lock Martin Haag and the ex-Gloucester second row Dave Simms to call on.

Plans to give the captaincy to another Bath player, Ben Clarke, the former England and Lions No 8, were shelved after the Worcester player announced that he no longer wanted to play representative rugby.