Carvell heads Britain's Tri-Nations new boys

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The Independent Online

Great Britain have stuck with some tried and tested combinations but have introduced new faces on the fringes for their opening game in the Tri-Nations in Christchurch on Saturday.

There will be a fresh look about the British bench, with three players making their Test debuts and the possibility of a fourth.

James Roby, of St Helens, Wigan's Gareth Hock and Garreth Carvell, of Hull, have all been confirmed as part of the Great Britain XVII. Jon Wilkin, another Saints player yet to make his full international debut, has been bracketed with Lee Gilmour for the remaining substitute spot.

Of the four, Carvell is the one who has made the most rapid progress, the prop battling his way into the Great Britain squad for the first time this year, in contrast with Roby, Hock and Wilkin, who have long been earmarked to arrive at this level.

Elsewhere, the Great Britain coach, Brian Noble, has shown that he was pleased with some of the structures he put in place for the game against the Kiwis in June, a 46-14 win at Knowsley Road. That means retaining the half-back partnership of Danny McGuire and Sean Long, which in turn entails no place for Hull's Richard Horne.

"I'm disappointed but not surprised," Horne said in Christchurch yesterday when he arrived with the advance guard of the British party. "They're both great players and they showed in that Kiwi game that they can link together really well. They are both players who can create something out of nothing and they've both got pace," he added.

The Kiwi coach, Brian McClellan, is equally unsurprised by the identity of the men wearing the No 6 and No 7 shirts. "We've done a review on their game even before they named them,'' McClellan said. "We expected to be facing them all along.''

The one slight surprise, although a predictable one, is that Noble has selected Leon Pryce on the wing rather than a specialist like Gareth Raynor. Pryce has spent all season with St Helens playing stand-off.

Noble has also decided to throw Adrian Morley straight into a Test, despite Morley not having played for over three months because of a suspension which brought his career in Australia to a premature end.

"He's naturally fit,'' said the Salford forward Andy Coley, another of the British players doing some belated promotion of the game in Christchurch last night. "He's been leading the way in training.'' Morley will team up with Stuart Fielden in the front row after he, like Brian Carney, was passed fit to play after concerns over a knee injury.

The Kiwis have been forced into a number of changes, with Shontayne Hape and Steve Matai injured, and Frank Puletua back in Australia because of his grandmother's illness. That means that Nigel Vagana will revert to his original position of centre with Jerome Ropati starting at stand-off. Even with Hape missing with a knee problem, there will be a Super League presence in the Kiwi side, with St Helens' Jason Cayless and Motu Tony of Hull on their bench.

Sales of tickets for the game at Jade Stadium, formerly Lancaster Park, have edged gradually over the 8,000 mark with local commentators bemoaning the slowness of the Christchurch public to respond to major events in their city.

The New Zealand Rugby League, keen to strengthen its case for staging part of the 2008 World Cup, hope that the walk-up crowd will take the gate up to 20,000 of its 38,000 capacity.

Great Britain team

v New Zealand (Sat, KO 8am BST, Christchurch):

1 Wellens (St Helens)

2 Carney (Newcastle)

3 Martin Gleeson (Warrington)

4 Senior (Leeds)

5 Pryce (St Helens)

6 McGuire (Leeds)

7 Long (St Helens)

8 Fielden (Wigan)

9 Newton (Bradford)

10 Morley (Sydney Roosters)

11 Ellis (Leeds)

12 Peacock (Leeds, capt)

13 O'Loughlin (Wigan)

Replacements: Roby (St Helens), Carvell (Hull), Hock (Wigan), Gilmour or Wilkin (both St Helens).

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