Great Britain's leading second-rower, Adrian Morley, is the latest player to be forced out of the opening Test against Australia at Huddersfield on Sunday by injury.
Morley was ruled out yesterday after consultations with his Australian club, Sydney City. It took them almost a fortnight from having X-rays of the arm he fractured last season e-mailed to them to make a decision, but the British team doctor, Prof Chris Brookes, supported the verdict. "We all want him to play in the Tests, but he will only go on that pitch when it is safe for him to do so," he said.
Morley, the only Briton playing top-flight league in Australia, admitted his frustration at the diagnosis. "I'm disappointed, but not that surprised," he said. "I came back too early during the season, so I can understand the Roosters' concern."
He is to have another X-ray next Monday, which is to be transmitted immediately to Australia, in the hope of getting him clearance to play in the second Test at Bolton on 17 November.
The Great Britain coach, David Waite, remains hopeful of having the Wigan hooker, Terry Newton, available for that match, but yesterday dismissed any idea that he could have his first choice in the position, Keiron Cunningham, fit enough, after a hernia operation, to play any part in the series.
Waite was sitting down with his support staff last night to finalise his line-up for the McAlpine Stadium. Morley's absence simplifies his options in the back-row, but Waite still claims not to have reached a binding decision on who will play scrum-half or hooker.
There are no such complications for Australia, who flew into Manchester Airport yesterday with their side already selected and announced a week ago. The Kangaroos, who initially called off the tour because of security concerns, disembarked to the sight of stepped-up security, with armed police accompanying the team.
"It was never that we didn't want to come," said their coach, Chris Anderson, a veteran of numerous visits to this country. "It was just one of those things. It wasn't a good time to be flying around the world." Anderson admitted to some concern about being rusty, but said that the squad's minds were firmly on the job now that the decision had been made to tour.
The Australian captain. Brad Fittler, who – rightly or wrongly – took much of the blame when the tour was cancelled, refused to speak to the media yesterday, but was defended by one of his senior colleagues, Andrew Johns. "We copped a bit and some of it was directed at Brad, which was a little unfair," he said. "But he's nice and relaxed now. He's an easy-going character."
Huddersfield have signed Paul March, the 22-year-old hooker or half-back who has rejected the chance to stay at Wakefield, whilst promoted Widnes have admitted an interest in Adam Hughes, the centre released a year early by Halifax.Reuse content