Unsung Powell has the power

Dave Hadfield discusses World Cup options for England's rugby league coach
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The Independent Online
PHIL LARDER, the England coach, will announce his squad for the Halifax Centenary World Cup on Tuesday. Between now and then, he still has a good deal of hard thinking to do.

There are areas in which the team to play Australia in theopener at Wembley on 7 October picks itself - on the wings, for instance. In other departments, such as the back row of the pack, there is almost an embarrassment of choice.

Elsewhere, however, there are problems, the worst of them at full-back, stand-off and open-side prop. If only Larder had two Gary Connollys, one to play at full-back and one in the centre.

If Connolly plays full-back, his original position and one to which he always returns with aplomb, then his Wigan team-mate Barrie-Jon Mather is a strong candidate to partner Paul Newlove in the centre, even though Larder likes the looks of Halifax's Grant Anderson.

If Connolly stays in his now established position of centre, then another young Wiganer, Kris Radlinski, is the best bet at full-back. At 19, Radlinski is young for this sort of responsibility, but all the indications so far are that he is a mature, versatile player who can do the job.

Nigel Wright - another Wigan player - was front-runner forstand-off until he was ruled out with ankle trouble. Now Daryl Powell, who also plays for Larder at Keighley, is favourite, although the temptation to recall Garry Schofield must be strong.

If, though, you want a player to climb inside the shirt of Australia's stand-off, captain and playmaker, Brad Fittler, then the often underrated Powell is your man. That leaves the front row, where at least Andy Platt can be regarded as a certainty. The hooker Lee Jackson would have been an equally easy choice, but his on-off preparation with Sheffield has been far from ideal and I would want Paul Rowley, of Halifax, in the squad.

Open-side is a headache, as there is no English prop, nowKelvin Skerrett and Neil Cowie have opted to be Welsh, who carries the necessary authority.

Halifax's Karl Harrison might struggle for pace under the 10-metre rule, but he has the virtue of making few mistakes in internationals, while Leeds' Neil Harmon and Wigan's Terry O'Connor have been the pick of the younger props this season. Moving a second-row, like Denis Betts or Chris Joynt, forward might appeal more.

Possible squad: Backs: Radlinski, Robinson, Connolly, Mather, Offiah, Edwards (Wigan), Bentley, Anderson (Halifax), Newlove (Bradford), Cook, Schofield (Leeds), Powell (Keighley), Goulding (St Helens). Forwards: Harrison, Rowley (Halifax), O'Connor, Cassidy, Haughton, Farrell (Wigan), Platt, Betts (Auckland), Joynt (St Helens), Jackson (Sheffield), Clarke (Sydney City), Harmon (Leeds).