Great Britain gain scant relief from tormentor Lyon

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The Independent Online

It will come as no relief to Great Britain's players in the southern hemisphere that next weekend they will be facing the man who has tormented many of them for the past two years.

The coach of Australia in the Tri-Nations, Ricky Stuart, has already indicated that he will pick Jamie Lyon for the game in Sydney, after taking the almost unprecedented step of recalling him to the national squad fresh from a stint in England.

There were bitter complaints when he was drafted in from those who resented the manner of his leaving Parramatta three years ago, but on his form at St Helens there is no disputing his right to be there.

What has created the opportunity is a series of niggling injuries to the regular right centre, the equally talented Mark Gasnier, breaking up a threequarter line which has looked formidable in the two victories over New Zealand so far in the tournament.

Gasnier and Justin Hodges have been playing inside a pair of giant wingers in Matt King and Greg Inglis, a 19-year-old so impressive that even the legendary Mal Meninga has predicted he will eclipse all of his records.

Lyon's presence will disrupt that combination, but hardly weaken it. "We were mindful of giving him time to get over his extensive travel, but he's had a hit-out in training and looked very sharp," Stuart said.

That all points to a busy evening for Britain's established centre pairing of Mark Gleeson and Keith Senior. Should either of them fail to make it for Sydney, the next in line for the job is Kirk Yeaman, the Hull centre who was the star of the first half of the Super League season and who is the subject of considerable interest in Australia, where South Sydney are bidding for his services from 2008.

If he listens to his Test team-mate, Adrian Morley, he will weigh very carefully what Souths have to offer.

Morley, who is heading for Warrington after five years with the Sydney Roosters, is a firm believer in young British players doing what he has done by spending a good slice of their careers in Australia.

Hull say they are confident of retaining Yeaman, but their chances will not be helped if he gets a chance to shine in the Tri-Nations, while Saints will have noted that Sean Long has been dropping heavy hints again about his desire to finish his career in the NRL.

The one thing Australia will not be importing, if Stuart has anything to do with it, will be British-based referees. The Kangaroo coach has been scathing about the performances of Ashley Klein in the victories over New Zealand and has argued that an Australian, like today's referee, Paul Simpkins, should be in charge for the rest of the series.

The irony of that is that Klein was born in Sydney, although he has lived in England for the past six years and is a product of the British refereeing system.

That makes no difference to Stuart, who has berated Klein for failing to police the 10-metre rule, much to the annoyance of his Kiwi counterpart, Brian McClennan, who has accused Stuart of a parochial attitude.

The Kiwi view is that Australia are again wanting everything their own way. "Sometimes it seems they only want Australians to play the game," McClennan said.