Kelly angered by Cullen's accusation

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Wales have defended their treatment of their star player, Lee Briers, who has suffered a major setback in his battle to get fit again after a broken wrist.

A furious Warrington coach, Paul Cullen, has alleged that Briers faces a further four to six months out after the injury worsened in weight-training with the Welsh as they prepared for tomorrow's game against Australia in Bridgend.

But the Wales coach, Neil Kelly, called that a "hysterical outburst". "It's disappointing that people have gone in for a knee-jerk reaction. I'm sure once they have acquainted themselves with the facts they will see that we have done nothing wrong. Warrington never contacted us to say what he could and couldn't do in training, but despite that we have made sure that he hasn't done any load-bearing activity that could affect his wrist."

Kelly has made a number of changes to a side that faces an infinitely tougher challenge than last week's easy victory over Russia. Anthony Farrell, who retired at the end of the season, makes a quick come-back, while David Mills plays for the first time since breaking his jaw. Hull KR's Jon Aston makes his Wales debut.

Despite the presence of two 38-year-olds, Kevin Ellis and Allan Bateman, Kelly says that this is a forward-looking squad, with the young Welsh-born players Aled James and Jordan James typifying the native talent he wants to bring through.

"It's a big task, but Australia's games on tour so far give anyone who plays them some cause for optimism," he said.

The Australian fixture takes Wales away from their European Nations Cup commitments this weekend. In today's game in Dublin, Ireland make just one change in their side to play France, with Karl Fitzpatrick rewarded for his match-winning substitute appearance against Scotland by being promoted to the starting line-up. France, with all their players available following the Mediterranean Cup in Lebanon, have Warrington's Jerome Guisset at prop.

England A, so impressive against Australia in midweek, should beat Russia at Odsal tomorrow. New Zealand A, with a draw and three defeats on their tour so far, have their last chance of a face-saving victory when they play a National League One selection at Leigh.

Simon Knox, who played for Scotland against Ireland last week, has rejected a new contract at Swinton and is likely to join Keighley.