Britain on the up after Kiwis pay for Fien's lie

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The Independent Online

Great Britain's Tri-Nations prospects have received an unscheduled boost with New Zealand being docked the two points they earned against them in Christ-church last Saturday. The committee of the game's International Federation has ruled that the Queensland-born hooker, Nathan Fien, was not eligible to play for New Zealand in two matches so far in the tournament, because his claim that he had a New Zealand-born grandmother was bogus.

Investigations have revealed that the Kiwis were aware that Fien's only relative was his great grandmother, which does not qualify him, even before he played in the Tri-Nations. Fien has been banned from playing for New Zealand again until he qualifies by residence next year.

The decision means that Australia, who play Great Britain in Sydney on Saturday, are already through to the final and Great Britain will join them there, regardless of other results, if they beat the Kiwis in Wellington next Saturday.

"With three games to go we think we're in it anyway," said the Great Britain coach, Brian Noble. "The element of humanity makes you feel sorry for him. The kid just wanted to play international football, but he's gone about it in the wrong way."

New Zealand said that they would not challenge the ruling and had already this week withdrawn their threat to boycott the Wellington game. Fien has been replaced in the Kiwi squad by the New Zealand Warriors' Lance Hohaia.

The verdict has overshadowed the news that Great Britain will be without Leeds stand-off Danny McGuire with a thigh injury for the match in Sydney tomorrow. Great Britain had hoped to keep McGuire's injury quiet until an hour before the match, but the player himself has admitted that he will miss out.

"It's just a bit of a tweak in training," he said. "I tried my best, but it's not going to be right for this game. It's nothing serious and I'll work as hard as I can to get fit for next weekend." McGuire's absence opens the door for Leon Pryce, who has been public enemy number one for the Australian media this week following his unflattering remarks about the country, to play in his usual St Helens position of stand-off.

Pryce played on the wing in Christchurch, but some of Great Britain's most effective moments were when he came infield and became involved. His place on the wing will be taken by Hull's Gareth Rayner.

"We're very disappointed because Danny's so exciting," said Noble. "But now Leon has got a fantastic opportunity. Sometimes these things happen for a reason." Apart from that reshuffle, Great Britain have two players making Test debuts and reviving a playing relationship that goes back a long way.

Kirk Yeaman and Jon Wilkin played together in schoolboy teams in Hull before going their separate ways, Yeaman to Hull FC and Wilkin to Hull KR and St Helens.

"I know him quite well," said Wilkin. "He's a great lad and I'm really pleased for him that he's got his chance. Both our clubs have given us our opportunity this season and we're grateful for that." Noble believes Wilkin will add to Great Britain's kicking options, although he will start on the bench.

Yeaman has to try to keep either Jamie Lyon or Mark Gasnier quiet and says he has no particular preference. "I think they're very similar players - the same skills, the same footwork and they are both quick," he said. "I've played against Jamie Lyon a few times and I think I've always done quite well." Lyon has praised Yeaman as the best young centre in Britain and the complement is appreciated. "I see him as one of the best centres in the game and you like to get compliments from players like that," Yeaman said. "Whoever you make your debut against, it's going to be nerve-racking, but that's what you play the game for - to be in big games like these."

Aussie Stadium teams


1 Hunt (Brisbane)

2 Tate (Brisbane)

3 Lyon (St Helens)

4 Gasnier (St George)

5 Inglis (Melbourne)

6 Lockyer (Brisbane)

7 Hornby (St George)

8 O'Meley (Bulldogs)

9 Berrigan (Brisbane)

10 Civoniceva (Brisbane)

11 Mason (Bulldogs)

12 Hindmarsh (Parramatta)

13 O'Donnell (N Q'land)

Replacements: Smith (Melbourne), Kite (Manly), Thaiday (Brisbane), Tupou (Roosters).

Great Britain

1 Wellens (St Helens)

2 Carney (Newcastle)

3 Senior (Leeds)

4 Yeaman (Hull)

5 Raynor (Hull)

6 Pryce (St Helens)

7 Long (St Helens)

8 Fielden (Wigan)

9 Newton (Bradford)

10 Peacock (Leeds)

11 Hock (Wigan)

12 Ellis (Leeds)

13 O'Loughlin (Wigan)

Replacements: Morley (Roosters), Roby (St Helens), Wilkin (St Helens), Gilmour (St Helens).

Referee: A Klein (GB).

KO: 9.0 (GMT)

TV: Sky Sports 2