Britain's best laid plans in a muddle

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The Independent Online
Confusion surrounds Great Britain's tour to New Zealand this autumn with the news that the host country has plans for a four-nation tournament at the same time.

The League here has released dates for a tour of Papua New Guinea, Fiji and New Zealand which includes three Tests against New Zealand in October. However, the NZRL president, Graham Carden, has thrown that scheme into doubt by announcing a series of Super League double-headers, involving New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain and PNG, in Auckland, Brisbane, Christchurch and Sydney.

The plan, which depends on Super League's Australian court appeal succeeding, has surprised even the New Zealand coach, Frank Endacott, who said that he was "as confused as anyone else" by Carden's announcement.

The League is equally bemused by the alternative plan, and will be seeking clarification from Carden. The episode is the latest in a tangled tale of tour plans this year. Originally, Great Britain were due to tour Australasia this summer, but that was scrapped after the advent of summer rugby.

The next version was a tour based on Australia in October and November, but that has been blocked by the continuing battle between Super League and the Australian Rugby League.

St Helens and Warrington are rivals for the services of the Auckland Warriors prop Julian O'Neill, who is being allowed to leave for Britain to further his career.

One overseas player already with Saints, the Australian forward Derek McVey, has escaped possible disciplinary action by being told by the League that he has no case to answer after being placed on report during the defeat at Bradford last Friday.

Carl Metcalfe, a local businessman, has been confirmed as the head of the consortium which has taken over Keighley Cougars. "I and the backers who share my views have several million pounds of personal wealth at our disposal," said Metcalfe, whose plans include increasing the ground's capacity to 12,000.