Brown: Clark not first choice
Nathan Brown is urging England boss Steve McNamara to resist the growing clamour to pick rising talent Daryl Clark as his first-choice hooker for the end-of-year Four Nations Series.
The 21-year-old, whose big-money move to Warrington for 2015 was confirmed this week, was called into England's training squad in June after catching the eye of McNamara during Castleford's impressive start to the season and he has gone on to maintain his impressive form.
He is expected to rival St Helens' England regular James Roby, as well as Wigan's Michael McIlorum, for the clashes against Australia, Samoa and New Zealand but Brown believes Clark's performance in the Challenge Cup final was a chastening experience and that it would be a mistake to throw him in at the deep end for his country.
"The other day's game was a good experience for him," said St Helens coach Brown.
"I would imagine England would take Roby, McIlorum and Daryl Clark on tour but Daz Clark for mine is not ready to be England's starting hooker yet.
"It's a lot tougher playing for 60 or 70 minutes against Australia than it is playing 60 minutes for Cas. But coming off the bench and having his squirt and trying to win them the game would be good thing for him, as would working with one of those experienced players."
Roby provided a timely reminder of his class with an impressive performance in Saints' crucial 13-12 Super League win over Leeds on Friday night that enabled them to put one hand on the league leaders' shield.
Only Castleford, who take on relegated Bradford Bulls on Sunday, now have the possibility of usurping St Helens at the top of the table following Wigan's shock defeat at Widnes and Warrington and Huddersfield fighting out a 24-24 draw on Thursday.