Kiwis given key vote on final official

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The Independent Online

The controversial choice of referee for this weekend's Four Nations final is hanging on the vote of the New Zealand jury. Australia are desperate not to be refereed by the English candidate, Steve Ganson, to the extent that they have put the Frenchman, Thierry Alibert, as their second choice after their own man, Shayne Hayne, who would be England's least favoured option.

That leaves the Kiwis, eliminated by England on Saturday, with the casting vote, which Australia fear they will use against them. "We just want the best referee," said the Australian coach, Tim Sheens. "People will have their own ideas who that is, but I don't think England should whinge about it."

Nor will they, according to England's assistant coach, Steve McNamara, standing in yesterday because of Tony Smith's wife's illness, but there is no doubt England would prefer Ganson's interpretations of the rules to Hayne's.

The Leeds winger, Ryan Hall, has crowned a remarkable season by being named as Rookie of the Year and best winger in the International Player of the Year Awards last night. Hall was one of three English players to be named the best in the world in their positions; the others were Kevin Sinfield at loose forward and Gareth Ellis in the second row. Hall will be in direct opposition in the Four Nations final on Saturday to the winner of the main award as International Player of the Year, Jarryd Hayne.

One player Hall beat to the Rookie award, the Australia centre Michael Jennings, is unlikely to force his way into the side for the final, despite his three tries on his debut against France on Saturday. "You have to keep it in proportion and remember who they were scored against," said Sheens, in the strongest possible hint that he will stick with Justin Hodges at left centre.

The Welsh captain, Jordan James, has been named as player of the tournament after leading them to victory in the European Cup, which they clinched by beating Scotland in the final on Sunday. Leeds have had confirmation that their newly-signed Australian centre, Brett Delaney, has been granted his visa and will be able to join them for pre-season training.

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