Salter's call-up cheers London

Rugby League
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Nathan McAvoy has made up for the disappointment of missing out on the senior Great Britain squad by being named captain of the Academy side to tour New Zealand at the same time this autumn.

The impressive 19-year-old Salford centre said, "this more than makes up for that let-down" when he was confirmed as the leader of a squad that hopes to become the first to beat Southern Hemisphere opposition in a Test series.

"Nathan has everything - bags of pace, a good pair of hands and a strong defensive game," the Salford coach, Andy Gregory, said. "There is no doubt that he has a massive future in the game."

The strength of the Academy party can be gauged from the number of players, including the vice-captain, Ian Knott of Warrington, holding down regular places in Super League sides.

The most intriguing name among the 30, however, is that of Matthew Salter, a Londoner from Catford, who had never played rugby league until this summer. "I was playing rugby union for Blackheath and went down to the London Broncos just to keep fit after the end of the season," Salter said.

He has made astonishing progress and played so well against Wigan last week in only his 10th game of rugby league that the Wigan and Great Britain coach, Ray Unsworth, has no doubt that he will be up to the required standard on tour. "I was mightily impressed by Matthew in the game when they beat us down there," said Unsworth.

Salter's selection will be a huge encouragement for London, who have the declared aim of fielding a largely local-based side within the next few years. There is a more familiar look to the party elsewhere, with seven players from Wigan and six from Leeds's successful junior ranks in the 30. The squad will play seven matches in New Zealand.

REAT BRITAIN ACADEMY squad (autumn tour of New Zealand): Backs: Arnold (St Helens), Broadbent (Widnes), Brown (Leeds), Cardiss (Wigan), Dean (Halifax), Flynn (Wakefield), Gilmour (Wigan), Golden (Leeds), P Johnson (Wigan), Kitching (Hull), Long (Wigan), McAvoy (Salford, capt), Munro (Halifax), Stokes (Featherstone), St Hilaire (Leeds), Watson (Salford). Forwards: P Anderson (St Helens), Baynes (Wigan), Clarke (Wigan), Field (Leeds), Fozzard (Leeds), Hargrave (Castleford), Highton (Halifax), Knott (Warrington), Leathem (St Helens), McKinney (Oldham), Milner (Huddersfield), Newton (Leeds), Talbot (Wigan), Salter (London Broncos).