Aiton flies Papua flag amid rifts

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The Independent Online

Papua New Guinea have only one player from Australia's NRL in their 24-man squad for the Four Nations.

That sole representative, the Cronulla hooker Paul Aiton, has been named as captain, but several other Australia-based players are thought to have made themselves unavailable because of internal wrangles within the game in Papua New Guinea.

The Kumuls, under their new coach, Stanley Gene, face a daunting first game in the tournament when they play Australia at Parramatta on 24 October.

Leeds have filled the hole in next season's pack by signing the Newcastle Knights prop Ben Cross on a two-year contract. He will be a direct replacement for Greg Eastwood, who has left after a single year at Headingley to rejoin the Canterbury Bulldogs.

The 31-year-old front-rower, who has played twice for New South Wales, has been released from the final year of his contract at Newcastle, where he was a team-mate of the Leeds hooker, Danny Buderus. "Danny speaks very highly of Ben and we are pleased that he has agreed to join us," said the Rhinos' coach, Brian McClennan.

The Rugby League is inviting tenders from British towns and cities to host matches in the 2013 World Cup. The 14-team tournament runs for five weeks in October and November.

The League has also unveiled a new pyramid structure for the amateur game, which involves the top layer of clubs playing in the summer. Local and regional leagues will be able to carry on playing in the winter, if they so wish.