ARL ignores rebels

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The Independent Online
The Australian Rugby League yesterday ignored eight Super League players for selection after they refused to play for their country. The rebels, all under contract to Rupert Murdoch's Super League, were dropped by ARL selectors for a hastily arranged fixture against a side representing the National Rugby League of Fiji on 12 July.

Only players who have remained loyal to the ARL during its power struggle with the Super League were considered for the game in Newcastle, New South Wales.

Australia's team to face Fiji closely resembles the side who won the World Cup last year. "These are the players who have shown the pride they place in an Australian jersey and who have proven themselves to be the best in the world," Ken Arthurson, the ARL chairman, said .

By dropping the Super League players, the ARL ended a period of relative calm in a battle for control of the game in Australia dating back to April last year when Murdoch announced his Super League. The rival competition has been barred from kicking-off in Australia until the year 2000. Murdoch's News Limited has appealed against the court ruling.

This latest flare-up follows the ARL's decision on Thursday to cancel a match against an unofficial New Zealand side on 28 June after the Super League contingent announced a boycott. The New Zealand Rugby League, an ally of Murdoch's Super League, refused to sanction the fixture and threatened disciplinary action against any players who accepted an ARL invitation to take part.

Mirroring the situation in Australia, Fijian rugby league has also been divided into rival camps for and against Murdoch's Super League plans.