Leeds get chance to gain quick revenge

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The Independent Online

Adrian Morley envies his former Leeds team-mates' opportunity to put one over on the Canterbury Bulldogs - and, by extension, Australia - in the World Club Challenge at Elland Road on Friday.

Adrian Morley envies his former Leeds team-mates' opportunity to put one over on the Canterbury Bulldogs - and, by extension, Australia - in the World Club Challenge at Elland Road on Friday.

Morley, the one Englishman playing in Australia's National Rugby League competition, would have loved the chance to wipe out his own unhappy memories of the stadium, where Great Britain were thrashed by the Kangaroos in the final of the Tri-Nations.

"It's a great place to play rugby league and it will be full of Leeds fans," he says. "But I think it will be special for them facing Australian opposition." If that will be extra motivation for players like Keith Senior, Ryan Bailey and - if fit - Danny McGuire, Morley expects a player who was controversially left out of the series to have a big say in this match and in Leeds' season.

"Kevin Sinfield is probably one of the most professional players I've ever known," he says. "He's had disappointments before and he's not the kind to sulk. He was left out of a Challenge Cup final and he didn't do that then, but he'll be thinking that he wants to prove Brian Noble wrong in leaving him out of the squad."

Morley could have been making a quick return to England himself, if his Sydney Roosters side had not lost to the Bulldogs in the Australian Grand Final in October.

"I was hoping to play against Leeds, but Canterbury have always been a tough side for the Roosters," he says. "I don't agree with people who say this is going to be easy for Leeds. The Bulldogs have some world-class players missing, but the players they bring in will be of first-grade standard."

Canterbury will be without three of their Grand Final-winning pack - Andrew Ryan, Mark O'Meley and Willie Mason - plus Ben Harris, Matt Utai and Brent Sherwin from the backs. All six of them needed operations at the end of a gruelling 2004.

"Any team would miss players like that, but the Bulldogs are always good against adversity," Morley says. "They've had a lot of things go against them in the last few years. It could have broken a lesser club, but they've not let it break them."

One charismatic player who will be available at Elland Road, after a shoulder scare, is the 19-year-old Sonny Bill Williams, who made such a huge impact for New Zealand in the Tri-Nations.

"He's already one of the best players in the world and he's only going to get better. He was clearly New Zealand's best player and I'd put him in the top five in the world."

Morley is itching to start the new Australian season after a Tri-Nations which he believes never showed him at his best when he was used as a prop.

"I didn't make a song and dance about it and I'd always play where the coach wants me to play," he says. "But I feel I'm more effective in the second row. I did mention it to Brian, but it's where he thought I was needed."

As well as the immediate past, Morley has been giving some thought to his future. He has two more years to run on his contract in Sydney and is then likely to look for a move back home, and despite the general assumption, it may not be with Leeds. "I'm a Salford boy and proud of it, so that could be a big attraction."

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