Clarke to fortify Cumbria against tourists

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The Independent Online

The Warrington hooker, Jon Clarke, will add to Cumbria's Super League experience for the match against the tourists from New Zealand next month.

The county side are being revived for the visit of the New Zealand A squad to Whitehaven on 19 October and Clarke is taking advantage of a new dispensation that allows players to qualify through their grandparents.

Other Super League players in a 23-man squad include St Helens' Ade Gardner and his younger brother, Matt, who plays for Leeds and appeared for the England Academy team who made history by beating the Australian Schoolboys last year.

Also named are London's Rob Purdham and his likely half-back partner, Peter Lupton, who has been on loan from Leeds to Hull. Ewan Dowes, who followed that same route before signing permanently, is among the forwards selected, while others with Super League backgrounds are the Widnes pair of Steve McCurrie and Ryan MacDonald, plus Paul Davidson of Halifax.

"I believe we've been able to achieve a good balance in the side and that they will maintain the tradition of giving touring sides a competitive encounter," said the Cumbria coach, Gary Chambers, who is on the coaching staff at Warrington.

"Cumbria have long wanted an opportunity to play a meaningful fixture and now we have it."

Bradford have confirmed that Stuart Fielden will miss the match against Leeds on Sunday that could bring the Bulls the League Leaders Shield. The Great Britain prop had a minor operation on his knee this week, but is expected to be fit in time for the play-offs.

Bradford hope to have Leon Pryce and Lesley Vainikolo fit to return against the Rhinos after missing the victory over the London Broncos last weekend.

Widnes have continued their consolidation for next season by re-signing the loose forward, Simon Finnegan, on a two-year contract. Finnegan, born in Warrington but brought up in Australia, has impressed the Widnes coach, Neil Kelly, since arriving from Penrith and asking for pre-season trials.

Lebanon are to host an expanded Mediterranean Cup tournament in October. The event will include the host nation, who now have a four-team domestic competition, plus France, Morocco and Serbia and Montenegro, with matches being played in Tripoli and Beirut. Lebanon beat France 36-6 in the inaugural Mediterranean Cup in Tripoli last year.