Britain unlikely to catch Kangaroos on the hop again

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The Independent Online

The only time Great Britain have won a Test match at what used to be Lang Park and is now the Suncorp Stadium they fielded a rather tasty three-quarter line. It read as follows: Billy Boston, Eric Ashton, Neil Fox and Mick Sullivan - quite possibly the best the country has ever put on to a pitch.

"People talk about the heroes and legends of yesteryear," said the Great Britain coach Brian Noble, when he and his team surveyed the scene last night. "These players have a chance to join them."

They would have a better chance of joining such élite company if they included a well-adjusted Sean Long, let alone a Boston or a Fox. Great Britain must play with the cards they have been dealt and play above all expectations if they are to beat Australia and reach the final of the Tri-Nations next weekend.

"I walked in here tonight and we felt the tension," said Noble. "But the right sort of tension." Noble has walked into this most gladiatorial of rugby league stadiums in the past and felt the same sort of tension. That was in 1984 when he was the captain of the Lions.

"I always claim to have set up a try, because I threw the first pass of the move that ended with Garry Schofield scoring at the other end of the field," he said. "I remember a few beer bottles were flying that night. I hope they give us a better welcome on Saturday." He should not count on it. There will be well over 40,000 in the ground, the vast majority of them the famously partisan Queenslanders, and, as Noble recognises, the Kangaroos are unlikely to let his side "sneak up on them again".

Great Britain caught Australia cold in Sydney two weeks ago, producing some clinical finishing to win 23-12. Last weekend, however, they fell on their faces in New Zealand, a depressing display which indirectly caused Long to cash in his chips and go home.

Ricky Stuart, the Australian coach, has a theory that the NZ setback could galvanise Great Britain in the way that the Nathan Fien eligibility affair did the Kiwis. There seems little doubt that the mood in training has been better this week. The question is whether Great Britain actually have the players to turn an improved mood into a winning formula. Danny McGuire and Richard Horne need to click at half-back from the start and keep on clicking. Goalkicking is a major worry, with McGuire the first choice and not having taken more than a handful of shots for years.

It is possible to argue that this is not a match in which kicking should count for much; Great Britain will surprise everyone if they get close enough for it to be a major factor.

"We've got to score some points," says Noble of the impossibility of trying to keep Australia quiet and win by goal kicks. That is where the centre combination of Martin Gleeson and Keith Senior need to be at their absolute best.

Tomorrow's Suncorp Stadium teams

Australia

1 Hunt (Brisbane)

2 Tate (Brisbane)

3 Gasnier (St George Illawarra)

4 Hodges (Brisbane)

5 Inglis (Melbourne)

6 Lockyer (Brisbane, capt)

7 Thurston (N Queensland)

8 Kite (Manly)

9 Smith (Melbourne)

10 Civoniceva (Brisbane)

11 Ryan (Canterbury)

12 Hindmarsh (Parramatta)

13 0'Donnell (N Queensland)

Replacements: Berrigan (Brisbane), Tupou (Sydney Roosters), O'Meley (Canterbury), Kaufusi (Melbourne Storm).

Great Britain

1 Wellens (St Helens)

2 Pryce (St Helens)

3 Gleeson (Warrington)

4 Senior (Leeds)

5 Raynor (Hull)

6 McGuire (Leeds)

7 Horne (Hull)

8 Fielden (Wigan)

9 Newton (Bradford)

10 Peacock (Leeds, capt)

11 Hock (Wigan)

12 Ellis (Leeds)

13 O'Loughlin (Wigan)

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

Referee: P Simpkins (Aus).

KO: 10am (GMT). TV: Sky Sports 2.

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