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Last Updated: Monday, 26 February 2007, 16:36 GMT
Noble hails Sculthorpe comeback
By Elizabeth Hudson

Paul Sculthorpe
Sculthorpe will be hoping to regain his international place
Former Great Britain coach Brian Noble says he never doubted Paul Sculthorpe's determination to come back from injury.

The Lions captain returned from six months out with an outstanding display in St Helens' World Club Challenge win over the Brisbane Broncos on Friday.

"Knowing the sort of person Paul is, he will have been determined to come back better and stronger and faster than before," Noble told BBC Sport.

"He had a huge influence on the game and he looks in great shape."

Noble appointed Sculthorpe as Great Britain captain in May 2005 in succession to Andy Farrell, although the loose forward missed the last two Tri-Nations competitions through injury.

After undergoing a knee operation in early October, Sculthorpe had a fairytale comeback against the Broncos, scoring a try and kicking three goals as Saints claimed a famous 18-14 victory.

Sculthorpe started on the bench but his arrival midway through the first half of the game sparked Saints into life, and he went on to win the man-of-the-match award.

Even if Paul had only played five minutes of the game he would have lifted those around him

Brian Noble

"Good players have a habit of lifting their team and Paul has a huge presence and has been on top of his game for a long time," said Wigan coach Noble, whose contract as GB coach was not renewed last month.

"He has had a couple of years of adversity with injuries but hopefully he is through that now and he will want to get better and better.

"When your trade has been as a top athlete, the thoughts of perhaps not playing again is a worry so I'm sure that will have crossed his mind at some stage when he had the operation.

"I don't know if it is necessarily good news for Wigan and the other Super League teams that he is back, but from a St Helens point of view and for Great Britain it is good news."

And Noble backed Saints coach Daniel Anderson's decision to play Sculthorpe against Brisbane, despite his lack of match practice.

606 DEBATE: Who would be in your GB XIII?

"I wasn't surprised that Daniel decided to play him and it was the right thing to do. I didn't see it as a gamble," said Noble.

"You like to see all of your English world-class players on the field for a big game.

"Paul is one of those players who can change games and his impact on those around him is plain for all to see. Those kind of players don't come around too often.

"He is intelligent about the game and has a big presence and even if he had only played five minutes of the game he would have lifted those around him."

Scully's return
24 Feb 07 |  Rugby League
St Helens 18-14 Brisbane Broncos
23 Feb 07 |  Rugby League
Sculthorpe will miss Tri-Nations
09 Sep 06 |  International
Sculthorpe handed Lions captaincy
03 May 05 |  Rugby League

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