Broncos' Leuluai keeps key Kiwi role

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The Independent Online

London's Thomas Leuluai is the only British-based player in New Zealand's squad to face Australia next week.

London's Thomas Leuluai is the only British-based player in New Zealand's squad to face Australia next week.

The Broncos' 19-year-old scrum-half is set to retain the role he played throughout last year's Tri-Nations tournament. He will fly out to Brisbane on Sunday and will miss the following weekend's Super League fixture against Wakefield.

"It's great news for him and he'll do a fine job," said the Broncos coach, Tony Rea, who took Leuluai off early in last weekend's heavy defeat at Leeds with his likely call-up for the international on 22 April in mind.

Leuluai himself expressed surprise that his half-back partner in the Tri-Nations, St Helens' Vinnie Anderson, has been left out of the squad after showing outstanding form for his new club. Other British-based players to be ignored include Ali Lauitiiti of Leeds and the Bradford pair, Robbie Paul and Lesley Vainikolo.

The Kiwi coach, Daniel Anderson, has included four uncapped players - Wests-Tigers' Benji Marshall and Bronson Harrison, Jerome Ropati of the New Zealand Warriors and Penrith's Frank Pritchard.

Wigan have announced their first significant operating profit since 1998. Their accounts for 2004 show a surplus of £110,000, but their chairman, Maurice Lindsay, maintained that they need to carry that success onto the field.

"Although we are pleased that we have got the club on a sound financial footing, the important goal for the club is to win a trophy as soon as possible," he said.

The club's acting coach, Denis Betts, has been named as Super League coach of the month for March, during which Wigan won three of their four matches. St Helens' Keiron Cunningham has won the players' award.

Wigan have two key players, Dennis Moran and Terry Newton, back in their squad for their game at home to the Super League leaders, Leeds, on Friday night. The Leeds prop, Danny Ward, will be missing after being suspended for one match for a reckless high tackle against London.

A tribute evening for Mike Gregory, who has been on sick leave from his job as Wigan coach for almost a year, has raised over £10,000 towards his medical expenses. Other events are planned.

Bradford have dedicated this Sunday's match against Huddersfield to Trevor Foster, who died last week at the age of 90, after 67 years of involvement with the club he joined as a player in 1938.

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