`Doubtful' Goulding adds to problems

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The Independent Online
Great Britain could be forced to improvise in the scrum-half section of their dwindling orchestra if Bobbie Goulding fails to recover from an ankle injury for Friday's third Test here, writes Dave Hadfield in Christchurch.

Goulding was unable to train yesterday and was described as "very doubtful" by the Great Britain coach, Phil Larder. With no other specialist scrum- half in a squad depleted by the decision to send 11 players home last week, Larder is being forced to think of drafting in a replacement who is not even in the country.

Fortunately one of the players sent home, Tulsen Tollett, has only got as far as his parents' home in Sydney and could be brought back in time for the Test. A decision will be made today on whether to do that.

The alternative is to move Iestyn Harris into the No 7 shirt which he has worn on occasion for Warrington. Harris trained in that position yesterday, in a session on a field shared with a school sports day, and Larder declared himself pleased with his performance, but like Tollett he is fundamentally a stand-off.

With serious doubts also hanging over Stuart Spruce, Alan Hunte and Anthony Sullivan, it is a bedraggled Lions party that is coming to the end of its southern hemisphere tour.

The Rugby League's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay, has laughed off suggestions that the game has serious financial problems. Last week the League brought home early 11 players from the Great Britain tour as a cost-cutting measure and yesterday the manager, Phil Lowe, revealed difficulties in paying the remaining players their weekly allowance. The tour is expected to make a loss of up to pounds 500,000 but Lindsay claimed that the game has never been better placed financially.

"It is an absolute nonsense to suggest that the expected tour losses would have a profound effect on the game," Lindsay said.