Briers wins spot in GB's reserve squad

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The Independent Online

He is not quite there yet, but Lee Briers is closer to a Tri-Nations call-up than he has ever been. The Warrington stand-off and captain, subject of a "Briers for Britain" campaign because of his outstanding form this season, has been included in Brian Noble's stand-by squad for the tournament against Australia and New Zealand this autumn.

There is every chance that he will be required for Great Britain's friendly in Newcastle, New South Wales on 21 October, as players involved in the Super League Grand Final will not be available. "I wasn't expecting it, to be honest," Briers said. "I've had a couple of ups and downs this season and my priority has been to get Warrington to the play-offs."

Having achieved that, Briers produced an influential display in the victory over Leeds on Friday night. "You can do yourself a lot of favours by performing particularly well this time of year," Noble said.

In order to play a Test, Briers would still have to earn selection ahead of Sean Long, Danny McGuire, Richard Horne and Leon Pryce - the half-backs in the 25-man main squad. That squad includes six uncapped players, with the Huddersfield winger, Martin Aspinwall, the most unexpected name. Hull's Garreth Carvell gets his first call-up, while the St Helens utility player, James Roby, is included as the back-up for the only specialist hooker, Terry Newton. "His form for Saints has been pretty outstanding," Noble said.

Two young back-rowers, Saints' Jon Wilkin and Wigan's Gareth Hock, are also in line for their first caps. Hock, back toward his best form under Noble's coaching at club level, "could give us that x-factor that people are talking about us needing," Noble said.

Great Britain's first competitive match is against New Zealand in Christchurch on 28 October.