Harris quits Great Britain to concentrate on Bradford

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Iestyn Harris, named last week in the squad to prepare for next month's international against New Zealand and this autumn's Tri-Nations, has retired from playing for Great Britain.

The cross-code international reclaimed his Test place on his return from rugby union to join Bradford in 2004 and played in three of Great Britain's four games in last year's Tri-Nations.

"I've enjoyed my time with Great Britain and have been very proud to play for them, but now the time is right to retire," said Harris, who will be 30 next month.

"I've had to decide what my priority is and that is to play well for the Bulls for the next three or four years," he added. "I feel to be able to do that something had to give."

Harris, who played rugby union for Wales in the 2003 World Cup, has left the door open on playing for Wales in the equivalent league tournament in 2008.

Harris's coach for Britain and, until recently, for Bradford, Brian Noble, said that he regretted the player's decision."He has been an important member of our squad over the last two seasons," he said. "But we are completely confident that the overall strength of the squad will not be adversely affected."

No decision has been made on whether to replace Harris in the 36-man squad, which already includes regular stand-offs in Leon Pryce and Danny McGuire, as well as Richard Horne.

Since his appointment at Wigan, Noble has hinted that he could step down from the international scene at the end of this season, but backtracked from that position yesterday."I'm as committed to Great Britain as I've ever been and I'd like to do it for another 10 years," he said.

At Wigan, Gareth Hock, a surprise inclusion in the British squad after more than a year out with injury, is to have a scan on his shin that may clear him to play in the Under-21s this weekend.

The Australian Rugby Union has withdrawn an estimated £300,000 offer to the St George-Illawarra and Kangaroo centre Mark Gasnier after its deadline to cross codes expired yesterday.

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