Shenton aiming to shine
Castleford centre Michael Shenton is among a host of fresh young faces set to turn out for England.
Last Updated: 12/06/09 9:58am
Castleford centre Michael Shenton is among a host of fresh young faces set to turn out for England against France on Saturday night.
The 22-year-old will attempt to fill the boots of Keith Senior, who was part of the international scene for more than a decade before bowing following the disastrous World Cup campaign at the end of last year.
After 11 years of distinguished service, Senior went voluntarily, while others were unceremoniously dumped and, although Smith insists the door is far from closed, it is up to Shenton and the rest of the new-look squad to lay a claim for places in the end-of-season Four Nations tournament.
"I can't wait," said Shenton. "It's all building up. It's the first big match I've been involved in and it's really exciting.
"It's the first camp I've been on as well so it's a really good experience. I feel as if I've a long way to go - I still consider myself inexperienced and I still want to learn loads of things - but it's a chance to get in there and cement my place.
"There are plenty of good players out there who want to take my spot off me. Tony has given me first shot at it, though, and I'm going to try my best to keep it."
Shenton will be partnered by Wakefield's Ryan Atkins in the centres, while Huddersfield hooker Scott Moore make his Test debut, starting ahead of St Helens star James Roby.
Leeds winger Ryan Hall is the other brand new face, while Salford scrum-half Richie Myler and Harlequins second rower Tony Clubb are in line to win their second caps.
Elsewhere, Shaun Briscoe can stake his claim for the full-back jersey and there is a big opportunity for Huddersfield's giant prop forward Eorl Crabtree to make a name for himself.
England have won eight successive matches against the French, whose realistic aim must be to avoid the humiliation of last year's 56-8 rout in Toulouse.
France, just as disappointing in the World Cup as England, will be expected to play with passion under new coach Bobbie Goulding but the loss of a host of injured Catalans Dragons players, most notably forwards David Ferriol and Olivier Elima, are major blows to their hopes of springing a surprise.
England (probable): Briscoe (Hull KR); Fox (Hull KR), Shenton (Castleford), Atkins (Wakefield), Hall (Leeds); McGuire (Leeds), Myler (Salford); Peacock (Leeds, capt), Moore (Huddersfield), Morley (Warrington), Hock (Wigan), Westwood (Warrington), Burgess (Bradford). Subs: Roby (St Helens), Graham (St Helens), Clubb (Harlequins), Crabtree (Huddersfield).
France (Catalans Dragons players unless stated): Villegas (Toulouse); Duport, Planas (Toulouse), Baile, Vaccari; Murcia (Limoux), Bosc; Casty, Bentley, Guisset (capt), Gossard, Mounis, Anselme (Toulouse). Subs: Martins (Pia), Gagliazzo (Carcassonne), Barthau, Griffi (Toulouse).