The Keighley Cougars player-coach was only added to the squad as a late replacement for the injured Paul Newlove, specifically because of his vast experience at international level. That depth of knowledge will be particularly valuable tomorrow when he leads a young and relatively raw side.
The tourists will need frequent gulps of bottled oxygen on the touchline because of the dreadful planning that requires them to play a match at altitude without acclimatisation. "It is not ideal," Phil Larder, the coach, said, "but a lot of the players prefer it to the heat at sea level."
With the Test team to play PNG on Saturday to be announced after the game, the most revealing aspect of the line-up to play at Mount Hagen is that St Helens' Steve Prescott, outstanding in their title run and for England last season, plays at full-back. That makes Stuart Spruce of the Bradford Bulls the obvious choice for the Test.
Paul Sculthorpe, who celebrated his 19th birthday waiting for the flight connection at Port Moresby airport on Sunday, has been held back for a role in the Test, where he is likely to figure among the substitutes. The only player not fit enough to be considered for either match is Bernard Dwyer, who is suffering badly from blisters on his feet, exacerbated by training on a hard ground in Singapore.
GREAT BRITAIN (v Papua New Guinea President's XIII, Mount Hagen, tomorrow): Prescott (St Helens), Roper (Warrington), Mather (Western Reds), Senior (Sheffield), Critchley (Keighley), Powell (Keighley, capt), Smith (Castleford), McDermott (Bradford), Lowes (Bradford), Malloy (Featherstone), Cassidy (Wigan), Bradbury (Oldham), Hammond (St Helens). Substitutes: Phillips (Workington), Harmon (Leeds), Tollett (London), Morley (Leeds).Reuse content