Edwards threatens to retire over 'slur'

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The England captain, Shaun Edwards, is threatening to retire from international rugby over Australian claims that he racially abused their Tongan winger, John Hopoate, in Saturday's opening World Cup match at Wembley, writes Dave Hadfield.

Edwards has already denied the allegations and is consulting his solicitor. "But if this is what international rugby league has come to, the way I feel at the moment is that the sooner I get away from it the better," he said.

Edwards, whose girlfriend is black, is furious at what he sees as an outrageous slur. He criticised Hopoate after the match for sledging the England full-back, Kris Radlinski, but takes the strongest possible exception to claims that he racially abused the player on the pitch.

The Rugby League may bring back Tonga on a short tour in the near future. The Tongans are due to leave for home after losing one and drawing one of their group games. The impact that they have had, however, makes the prospect of another visit an attractive one.

WESTERN SAMOA (Group Three v France, Cardiff, today): P Tuimavave (North Harbour); Koko (Narrandera), Tuigamala (Wigan), Schuster (Halifax, capt), Laumatia (Cronulla); Ropati (Auckland), Swann (Auckland); S Solomona (Auckland), Poching (Auckland), Afoa (Penrith), Matautia (St Helens), Tatupu (Auckland), T Tuimavave (Auckland). Substitutes: Vagana (Auckland), Panapa (Salford), Elia (Albi), Perelini (St Helens).

NEW ZEALAND (Group Two v Papua New Guinea, St Helens, tomorrow): Ridge (Manly, capt); Hoppe (Auckland), Blackmore (Auckland), Wiki (Canberra), Williams (Sydney Bulldogs); Paul (Wigan), Jones (Auckland); Pongia (Canberra), Eru (Auckland), Lowrie (Sydney City), Kearney (Auckland), Horo (Sydney Wests), Kemp (Leeds). Substitutes: Ngamu (Auckland), Okesene (Auckland), K Iro (Leeds), T Iro (Sydney City).