Kear's problems pile up

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The Independent Online

The England coach, John Kear, has lost one potential member of his side for the Lincoln World Cup and may loose three more by the time he names his squad in 11 days.

The England coach, John Kear, has lost one potential member of his side for the Lincoln World Cup and may loose three more by the time he names his squad in 11 days.

The St Helens captain, Chris Joynt, has told Kear that he is going to play for Ireland and the Leeds scrum-half, Ryan Sheridan, is likely to make the same decision.

"On top of that, the Welsh have virtually guaranteed Anthony Farrell a place, which I can't do," said Kear. "I understand the position of all three players."

More damaging for Kear is the strong possibility that his likely first choice hooker for the tournament, Terry Newton, will drop out in order to have a shoulder operation.

"It's highly unlikely that he'll be playing the World Cup," Kear said. "He is carrying a lot of knocks and, although it is disappointing, it's understandable."

Kear says that Lee Jackson from Leeds and Halifax's Paul Rowley are now the front-runners for the hooker's job, although he has also apparently been impressed by Mark Smith, who has stood in for Newton in the Wigan side.

"I thought he was tremendous when he came in, but Rowley's form has also been terrific, so I think we have a lot of good options," Kear said.

Samoa has named the Wakefield Trinity forward, Willie Poching, as their captain for the tournament. The other English-based players in the squad are his Wakefield team-mate, Tony Tatupu, and St Helens' Fereti Tuilagi, although his signing for Leicester RUFC could put his availability in doubt.

New Zealand have scrapped plans for a training camp in Australia and will instead fly to Britain to link up with their coach, Frank Endacott, a week before the tournament. The NZRL has offered the players a large portion of the £400,000 winners' prize money if they succeed in lifting the trophy in November.

The former New Zealand coach, Tony Gordon, has not applied for the job at the London Broncos, the club he coached as the London Crusaders in 1993-94. Gordon, who is in New Zealand at present, is reported to have said that he would like to return to the London club.

The Broncos, with their chief executive, Tony Rea, filling in since the sacking of John Monie, are to train with the former world middleweight champion, Nigel Benn, today in a quest to put more punch into their play for Saturday's match against St Helens.

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