|Rugby League: If I were a French official I would stand well clear
||[Jun. 10th, 2009|02:08 pm]
An exciting-looking combination of the established and the untried are in France preparing for the one Test before the Four Nations this autumn.|
The likes of Shaun Briscoe, Peter Fox, Ryan Hall and Ryan Atkins have the opportunity to nail themselves on as first choice in their positions.
It looks harder to break into the pack, but Eorl Crabtree has the chance to mark himself down as a likely impact forward from the bench.
He's long been a favourite of mine and I don't go along with the view in some quarters that he lacks aggression. Okay, he's a bit of a gentle giant off the field and he doesn't go around thumping people on it.
But he runs the ball like he means it, which is what matters.
Another whose time has surely come is Briscoe. There is no braver full-back around and he has that burst of pace that enables him to get up in support of attacks.
We still have a bit of fun over the time he scored four tries at Odsal and I didn't give him the Man of the Match. He's picked up a few since and it wouldn't surprise me if he was in the frame in Paris.
The French team doesn't look strong enough to stop him, or some of England's other attackers. Bobbie Goulding can only pick from what he has got, but he is struggling at half-back and cannot afford to be without the likes of Raguin, Fakir and Fellous - all absent for various reasons.
I've known Bobbie since he was a snotty-nosed kid at Wigan, I've always enjoyed his company and I wish him well. I do think he was an extraordinary appointment, but we won't fall out over that, because he thinks so as well.
The question is how he performs in the job. We know he will bring great enthusiasm to it; the only side he has ever coached, Rochdale, had that in bucket-loads.
What I worry about is his notorious short fuse. If France get a heavy beating on Saturday night and some French official says the wrong thing to him, light the blue touchpaper and stand well clear.
Hopefully, it won't come to that. A competitive France is good for world rugby league and especially good for England.
It could be an interesting night, with a French national strike to factor into the equation. Bobbie's boys will need to man the barricades themselves, I fancy.