Australia gamble on Wing for final

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The Independent Online

Australia have named Craig Wing in their squad for the Tri-Nations final at Elland Road on Saturday, despite a sternum injury that could yet rule him out. The Sydney Roosters utility player was one of the main problems for Great Britain at Hull last weekend, as the host country were knocked out of the tournament.

Although not included in the original party, he flew in from holiday in Hawaii midway through the tournament and will definitely face New Zealand if fit.

If not, the Wests-Tigers scrum-half, Scott Prince, will win his second cap. He has been added to the 17 who accounted for Great Britain, along with the prop, Steven Price. Craig Gower, who played at Hull despite straining a thigh muscle in the warm-up is expected to be fit.

New Zealand have confirmed that their scrum-half Stacey Jones is due to fly in from Auckland in time for the match after the birth of his child. "That really shows how important the jersey and his team-mates are to him," said the Kiwi coach, Brian McClennan.

The St Helens-based referee, Steve Ganson, has been given the task of controlling the match.

Promoted Castleford have been given the honour of kicking off the new Super League season next year. They will be at home to the Challenge Cup winners, Hull, on Friday 10 February.

The new French side in the competition, the Catalan Dragons, have got their wish with a home game against Wigan, also on Sky TV, the following day.

"Wigan is a well known name in France and in the Catalan region in particular," said the Wigan chairman, Maurice Lindsay. "I'm sure it will help them fill their ground and it will be a very tough game for us."

The same day, Harlequins RL - the new name for what were the London Broncos - start their campaign at the Stoop with a game against St Helens. The Super League champions, Bradford, begin their defence of their title at Wakefield on 12 February.

St Helens made a profit of £140,000 in the 2004 season, compared to a loss of £380,000 in the previous 12 months. Saints are to play the London Skolars in a pre-season friendly at Donnybook Park in Dublin on 22 January.

Castleford's scrum-half Paul Handforth has taken up the option of a second year on his contract with the club in order the return to Super League, in which he previously played with Wakefield.