Fielden fit to face Kiwis and in the mood to improve

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Stuart Fielden is out to make someone pay for his knockout at the hands of Willie Mason in last Saturday's Tri-Nations Test against Australia.

Fielden has passed a cognition test to prove that he has recovered from concussion and is fit for Great Britain's next Tri-Nations game against New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday, when he wants to obliterate the memory of the right hook that laid him low in Sydney and brought Mason a one-match ban.

Surprisingly, Fielden has come to Mason's defence over the incident. "I thought the one-match ban was a bit harsh," he said. "I thought the tackle on Sean Long was far more serious."

Fielden has, however, denied Mason's version of the verbal altercation between the two players leading up to the infamous punch. "It's very hard to fit a 10-minute conversation into five seconds,: he said. "It sounds like we've been pen pals."

Fielden, however, is more concerned with his poor form. "I have to do two things - keep my place in the team and then improve," he said.

Australia have decided not to appeal against Mason's ban and A$5,000 (£2,000) fine, but their coach, Ricky Stuart, says that they are the victims of a change of policy midway through a tournament after previous punches had gone unpunished. "I believe we've copped a raw deal," he said.

Fielden has been named in the front row in an unchanged British side for the Test in Wellington, along with Brian Carney, who says he has recovered from his hamstring tweak.

Danny McGuire, who played in the first match in New Zealand, is fit again after a leg muscle strain, but is only 18th man, with Leon Pryce holding his place at stand-off. The selection reflects the general sense of satisfaction with the British display against Australia.

"But it's important we pick the right team," Noble said. "They will present slightly different threats from the Australians."

New Zealand have recalled Bradford's Shontayne Hape after a knee injury for Saturday's game - a player Noble knows well from his time in charge of him at Bradford. Hape will fill the right-wing role in place of Tame Tupou. Steve Matai returns in the centres and Dene Halatau replaces Nathan Fien, the player ruled ineligible in the "Grannygate" scandal.

The Kiwi coach, Brian McClennan, says it will now take a miracle for his side to qualify for the final.

Comments