Australia pick Tongans for opening World Cup match

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The Independent Online
Rugby League

DAVE HADFIELD

Australia have named both the Tongans they have appropriated in their team for the opening Centenary World Cup match against England at Wembley tomorrow.

John Hopoate, the Manly winger, and Jim Dymock, the Sydney Bulldog's loose forward, are in the starting line-up and are the only uncapped players in Bob Fulton's selection.

Despite the lack of players signed to the rival Super League organisation, the Australian team is otherwise full of players of proven international prowess, including the bulk of the team that beat New Zealand 3-0 in their series earlier this year.

Hopoate has been preferred to Brett Dallas and Robbie O'Davis - a substitute at Wembley - while Dymock has beaten his club-mate, Jason Smith, to the one contentious position in the pack. Rod Wishart is installed on the opposite wing from Hopoate and as goal kicker, after arriving late from Australia following the birth of his son.

Tonga, who play New Zealand at Warrington on Sunday, have had to leave their centre, Afi Leulai, behind. Leulai is due to join Oldham after the World Cup and the Tongan coach, Mike McClennan, said: "Work permits can't be granted if a player is already in this country and that is why we had to leave him behind. We could have jeopardised his position if he had come with us."

South Africa, who play Fiji at Keighley on Sunday, have called in a sports psychologist, Nick Morris, to aid their preparations. Morris once worked with Harlequins rugby union club.

"He talks to the players individually and gets them to believe in themselves," South Africa's coach, Tony Fisher, said. "A calming influence and that's good because, although they are naturally aggressive players, he helps to keep that under control."

A group of Papua New Guinea players have been told by Hull police there will be no charges against them after a complaint from a woman who had been in their company last night.

Their co-manager, Bob Robertson, said there would be an internal enquiry into the incident and the World Cup organisers were being kept informed.

What is the future for rugby league? Section Two, page 4

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