Morley controversy adds extra spice to Smith's first match

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The Independent Online

The recent history of Test series between Great Britain and New Zealand suggests that they do not require any extra emotional build-up, but the one that starts at Huddersfield tonight has had it, whether it needs it or not.

The former chairman of the NZRL, Sel Bennett, joined in the controversy yesterday by accusing his successor, Andrew Chalmers, of "building hype" with his complaints about Adrian Morley being cleared to play despite being put on report for a high tackle last week.

Chalmers' comments and the equally robust response from the RFL's chief executive, Nigel Wood, do smack of trying to sell tickets like a pair of heavyweights before a title fight.

But, no matter how stage-managed it might be, it will do nothing to lower the temperature at the Galpharm Stadium. For one thing, it puts pressure on the Australian referee, Tony Archer, the first time Morley makes a borderline tackle.

Apart from his occasional miscalculations, the Warrington forward has been back to his best form recently and is one player Great Britain need to have firing if they are to get on top.

The new coach, Tony Smith, cannot be accused of being timid or indecisive in his team selection. It cannot have been easy to tell Stuart Fielden that his form did not warrant inclusion, but it was what needed to be done.

Conversely, he has backed his hunch that Sam Burgess, at 18, is ready not just to play in a Test, but to start at prop against Roy Asotasi.

Much will depend on the back row of the pack, which consists of three players who have served Smith so well at Leeds this year.

Few would argue with the inclusion of Jamie Peacock and Gareth Ellis, but Kevin Sinfield has points to prove at international level. At least this time he will play his natural position of loose forward, the presence of James Roby on the bench meaning that he is unlikely to be needed at hooker.

That bench, with its three St Helens players, is another instance of Smith taking what works at club level and trying to adapt it for a Test. One of those substitutes, Maurie Fa'asavalu, a Samoan who has opted to play for Great Britain, can expect a particularly warm welcome from Kiwi players of the same heritage when he comes into the fray.

Morley and Peacock have warned their team-mates to expect a vigorous backlash from a side who were humiliated 58-0 by Australia two weeks ago. That was Gary Kemble's first match in charge and he has acknowledged that his tenure could be brief if his team do not improve.

That is something of which he has to be confident. "It was maybe an attitude problem, and they're pretty determined to put it right," he said. "There's been a better atmosphere by miles."

As usual, the Kiwis have been badly hit by injuries and withdrawals, but their one outstanding doubt has cleared up, with Lance Hohaia passed fit to play after a thigh injury.

As their main kicker, he will be an important player and his partnership at half-back with Thomas Leuluai is crucial.

Super League form suggests that it is an area where Great Britain, through Leon Pryce and Rob Burrow, might have an edge.

In today's other game, the Australian-born Justin Murphy makes his debut for France against Scotland.

Great Britain: Wellens (St Helens); Gardner (St Helens), Gleeson(Warrington), Senior (Leeds), Raynor (Hull); Pryce (St Helens), Burrow (Leeds); Morley (Warrington), Newton (Bradford), Burgess Bradford), Peacock (Leeds, capt), Ellis (Leeds), Sinfield (Leeds). Replacements: Roby (St Helens), Graham (St Helens), Fa'asavalu (St Helens), O'Loughlin (Wigan).

New Zealand: Perrett (Sydney City); Tupou (Bradford), Hape (Bradford), Whatuira (Wests Tigers), Tauaki (NZ Warriors); Hohaia (NZ Warriors), Leuluai (Wigan); Asotasi (South Sydney,capt), Halatau (Wests Tigers), Moimoi (Parramatta), Mannering (NZ Warriors), Pritchard (Penrith), Smith (Melbourne). Replacements: Anderson (NZ Warriors), Eastwood (Brisbane), Rapira(NZ Warriors), Lauaki (NZ Warriors).

Referee: T Archer (Australia).

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