GB manager upset by tour cash shortage

Rugby League
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The Independent Online
The Great Britain tour manager, Phil Lowe, has hit out at the lack of money that is reducing the tourists to living from hand to mouth.

Lowe said yesterday that delays in getting cash from the New Zealand Rugby League and the absence of any financial help from Britain meant that he was not certain to be able to pay the players' weekly wages today.

"It's a ridiculous state of affairs," he said. "At the moment, we don't have the money to pay them and we have been told from Leeds that we have to try and get it out of the New Zealand League from their gate receipts."

Lowe also revealed that he had had to lend the injured Tony Smith enough money to get home when he left the tour party yesterday.

"Things have happened on this tour that no other tour has had to put up with," he said.

"The contrast with rugby union is frightening. Players in the England squad get pounds 70,000 just for being selected. Our kids have to wait three months for their petrol expenses for attending training. It stinks."

Lowe also said that a request to the League to allow players to travel business class on the long hauls involved in their trek around Papua New Guinea, Fiji and New Zealand have been turned down.

"Some of these lads are close to being millionaires. You are asking them to travel in less comfort than they would if they were paying their own way. It wouldn't happen to the national football or rugby union side."

The Lions have been caught between poor gate takings on tour and the inability of the Rugby Football League, which as well as ordering 11 players home made six employees redundant last week, to send any assistance.

Lowe complains that his faxes on the subject have been ignored. "We need to realise the importance of international rugby and put the necessary money into it," he said.

n Great Britain's injury crisis for Friday's third Test against New Zealand has worsened, with their captain and loose forward, Andy Farrell, and full-back Stuart Spruce the latest players to join the casualty list. Phil Larder, the Britain coach, has called off tomorrow's training session as six of his remaining 20 players are struggling for fitness.

Farrell suffered a side strain in Friday's 18-15 Second Test defeat by the Kiwis in Palmerston North, while Spruce has an ingrowing toenail.

Both are expected to be fit for the Third Test which the Lions, who have already lost the series, must win to avoid this being their worst ever tour of New Zealand.