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Thursday, 26 October, 2000, 06:50 GMT 07:50 UK
Rogers receives late call-up
England today called Castleford winger Darren Rogers into their squad for the Lincoln World Cup as a replacement for the injured Nathan McAvoy.
The 26-year-old Rogers was squeezed out by McAvoy when coach John Kear named his 24-strong squad last month but gets a belated call-up following the loss of the Bradford three-quarter with a serious knee injury.
Rogers, who finished joint top of the Super League try-scoring chart with 20 from 28 matches, will not, however, play in Saturday's opening group one game against Australia at Twickenham.
The former Dewsbury and Salford winger only arrived back from a holiday in Mexico on Tuesday night. He will join up with the England squad when they return north on Monday and almost certainly play against Russia at St Helens two days later.
"He was very unlucky when we chose the final squad," said Kear. "We were aware of his tryscoring record but we went for a certain type of player. We felt that Nathan just had the edge over him.
"But one man's misfortune is another's opportunity. David Howes (manager) has spoken with Darren and he is very keen to come in.
"We are going to have a chat with him on Monday and he can go out there and prove us all wrong for not picking him in the first place."
Meanwhile, hopes are fading for England's other casualty from their practice match with the United States, loose forward Paul Sculthorpe, who pulled a hamstring in the 110-0 win.
"Paul Sculthorpe is looking more and more doubtful and we accept that," said Kear.
"We've got contingency plans but we're giving him as long as we can. He's too good a player to rule out at this stage.
"He'd be in the starting 13 if he was fit and if he is fit by 12 o'clock on Saturday, he'll be in the team."
Sculthorpe has returned to his Oldham home and is undergoing daily treatment from physiotherapist Tommy Smales, a former player who specialises in hamstring injuries.
"He is doing a lot of rehab work and reporting back to us every day," added Kear. "He is showing improvement but we don't know whether he can improve enough to meet the deadline.
"Tommy has had Leeds players back in two weeks from more serious injuries than Paul Sculthorpe's. If he doesn't get back for Saturday, I am sure will be back for the Saturday after."
England last night received a helping hand from South Africa's 1995 Rugby Union World Cup winning captain Francois Pienaar, the Saracens chief executive who addressed the team at their London hotel.
"We feel physically they're well conditioned and we're making sure they're eating the right kind of food," explained Kear. "The only other factor in the equation is the mental preparation, so we're tying to hone that.
"Francois talked about the World Cup in South Africa and the effect it had on the nation and how his team prepared.
"I am sure it had some effect. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife, they were really intense and focused on what he was saying. There were many messages to come out of it."
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