Australiaignore leading lights

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Rugby League

DAVE HADFIELD

The legendary strength in depth of Australian rugby league is evident in the 40-man squad to prepare for the Halifax Centenary World Cup.

Selection has been restricted to players who have not signed for Rupert Murdoch's Super League. At least 20 obvious candidates, including leading lights such as Laurie Daley, Ricky Stuart, Bradley Clyde and Allan Langer, have been excluded, but the squad is still formidably strong.

All the players who took part in the 3-0 series win over New Zealand this summer have been included, along with others who made their mark in the preceding State of Origin series.

There are potential problems, however, over the fitness of Greg Florimo, David Fairleigh and Gary Lawson, all of whom were injured playing for North Sydney this weekend, and over the Manly winger, John Hopoate, who was born in Tonga and is wanted by them for the World Cup.

The tournament organiser, Maurice Lindsay, has backed off in his demand that Super League players should be included, but is adamant that Australia, like other entrants, will have no warm-up games.

The sour atmosphere surrounding the World Cup was reflected in Lindsay's description of the Australian coach, Bob Fulton, as "a bully" after Fulton had accused him of "dirty tricks" over the warm-up question.

The Emerging Nations World Cup is to be played in two groups: The Cook Islands, Russia, Scotland and the USA in one; Ireland, Morocco and Moldova in the other.

The schedule features a double-header in Northampton and the final at Gigg Lane, Bury, on 24 October.

Bradford Bulls have made an approach for St Helens' Welsh centre, Scott Gibbs, but it has had as frosty a reception as their move for Kevin Iro of Leeds.

AUSTRALIAN SQUAD (Halifax Centenary World Cup,October): J Ainscough (Newcastle), G Allen (Brisbane Broncos), D Barnhill (St George), T Brasher (Sydney City Tigers), W Bartrim (St George), M Carroll (Manly), M Coyne (St George), D Fairleigh (North Sydney), C Field (South Sydney), B Fittler (Penrith), G Florimo (North Sydney), D Gillespie (Manly), T Gillmeister (South Queensland Crushers), D Hall (North Sydney), C Hancock (Manly), P Harragon (Newcastle), T Hearn (North Sydney), T Hill (Manly), M Hohn (South Queensland Crushers), J Hopoate (Manly), B Ikin (Gold Coast), A Johns (Newcastle), M Johns (Newcastle), N Kosef (Manly), G Larson (North Sydney), B Mackay (Western Reds), P McGregor (Illawarra), S Menzies (Manly), D Moore (Manly), B Moore (North Sydney), A Muir (Newcastle), R O'Davis (Newcastle), D Pay (Sydney City Bulldogs), M Seers (North Sydney), J Serdaris (Wests), M Sing (Penrith), J Smith (Sydney City Bulldogs), G Toovey (Manly), D Treacy (Newcastle), R Wishart (Illawarra).

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