Sculthorpe out of Tri-Nations

Great Britain captain Paul Sculthorpe intends to come back fitter and stronger from his latest injury setback.

The St Helens loose forward has confirmed he will pull out of the end-of-season Tri-Nations series tour Down Under in order to undergo major knee surgery.

Sculthorpe also missed last year?s series with the same injury but is determined it will not end his international career.

?It would have been easier for me to go on tour, limp through training, limp through games, say I?ve captained my country and not do either myself of the team any favours,? he told the BBC.

?I?m not willing to do that and I?m looking long term.

?It?s a big honour playing for your country but it?s something you?ve got to be fully fit for.

?I?ve had two really frustrating years these past two years with this injury.

?Hopefully the operation can rid me of all the injuries I?ve had because they?ve all been related to this knee.?

Sculthorpe, who turns 29 later this month, led Saints to victory in the Powergen Challenge Cup final a fortnight ago but aggravated the injury in last week?s engage Super League win over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and met a specialist in London this week to map out a course of treatment.

He will have a cortisone injection this week to enable him to lead Saints in the engage Super League play-offs as they seek to become only the second team to complete the modern-day double.

?I want to be part of this great Saints side this year,? he said. ?The good thing is the injury?s nothing long-term - it can be fixed.

?You?ve got to think long term and you?ve got to think after rugby as well.

?I went to see the surgeon in London and he said ?there are guys with a lot worse knees still playing who have had nothing done?.

?I probably could get through games but not at the level I want to be at and which people are used to seeing me at.

?I want to be at the top of the game and not limping through games.?

Sculthorpe is the second player to withdraw from Brian Noble?s 45-strong Great Britain squad, following the decision of his St Helens team-mate Keiron Cunningham to retire from Test rugby for personal reasons.

In Sculthorpe?s absence, Great Britain coach Noble is once more likely to turn to Leeds Rhinos forward Jamie Peacock, who stepped into the breach in 2005 and took over the captaincy when Sculthorpe came off during the June Test against the Kiwis with an injury to his left knee.

The 2006 Tri-Nations series gets under way in Auckland on October 14, with Britain playing their first match against holders New Zealand in Christchurch on October 28.