Kangaroos put form first

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The Independent Online

Brett Kimmorley and Ryan Girdler, two of the linchpins of last year's World Cup-winning Australian party, are the notable omissions from the 24-man squad for the Ashes tour later this month.

Kimmorley, the side's regular scrum-half, and Girdler, who broke the world record with three tries and 17 goals against Russia during the tournament, have been left out after lacklustre seasons with their clubs as the Kangaroos have put their faith in youth. Two uncapped 19-year-olds, the Canterbury stand-off, Braith Anasta, and the Parramatta centre, Jamie Lyon, have been included.

"It's as I expected," said the Great Britain coach, David Waite. "The selectors have picked the squad on form and you've got the senior players with exciting youngsters."

In Kimmorley's absence, the only specialist scrum-half in the party is Andrew Johns, who captained Newcastle to victory in the National Rugby League's Grand Final on Sunday, but Craig Gower can cover that position as well as hooker, where another Newcastle man, Danny Buderus, is the one full-time No 9 named.

Australia will bring six props, but just one regular full-back – Brisbane's Darren Lockyer – although his team-mate, Lote Tuqiri, played there successfully for Fiji in the World Cup. The Australians have admitted to some nervousness about making the trip in the current international climate and the tour will remain under review on a day-to-day basis.

Bradley Clyde, the back-row forward whose 20 Australian caps included all four Tests in Britain and France on the last Kangaroo tour in 1994, will not complete his two-year contract at Leeds. Clyde has been plagued with injury all season, culminating in an achilles tendon problem which could keep him out of action for six months.

Leeds, who had already released Clyde's Canberra and Australia team-mate, Brett Mullins, because of injury, have decided to cut their losses again. That leaves them with a gap on their overseas quota, which they hope to fill by signing the New Zealand prop, Quentin Pongia, although he missed a worrying amount of last season with Sydney City.

Leeds have ended their interest in the Wakefield prop, Keith Mason, claiming that Trinity breached confidentiality over a possible deal.

Warrington say that they are standing by their reserve full-back, Dave Alstead, who has failed a drug test, until the result of a second sample is known. The club sacked another player, Dave Highton, last season when he tested positive for a banned steroid.

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