Great Britain have bowed to the inevitable by leaving Iestyn Harris – who has probably played his last game of rugby league – out of their plans for the Ashes series this autumn. The Leeds stand-off is widely expected to be playing rugby union for Cardiff by the time Australia arrive.
"We asked him if he was prepared to give a commitment for the Ashes series and he declined to give us that commitment," said Greg McCallum, the Rugby Football League's director of rugby.
Harris missed Wales' brave effort against England on Tuesday night with a wrist injury and his deputy as stand-off and goal kicker, Lee Briers of Warrington, has been included in the squad. The Great Britain coach, David Waite, said that he had to write Harris out of his plans, but stressed that he could still be drafted in if his position changes. Keiron Cunningham is included despite suggestions that he, too, is on his way to union – clear evidence that the RFL still hopes to keep him in the code.
Harris could even have played his last game for Leeds. An operation to repair ligament damage means that his left arm will be in plaster for six weeks, ruling him out of the rest of the regular season, starting with tonight's match at home to Halifax. He could possibly return for the latter stages of the play-offs, if Leeds are still involved.
Other notable absentees include Harris's Leeds team-mate Chev Walker, who had a poor first half at Wrexham. There are no places either for Brian McDermott, the Bradford prop who played for England on Tuesday, or for the veteran St Helens winger Anthony Sullivan. He is ruled out of Saints' game at Castleford tonight, but Anthony Stewart, who is in Waite's squad, is fit to return.
St Helens have confirmed a new move from Swansea for their Welsh hooker Kieron Cunningham. The union club have already had a £250,000 offer for Cunningham rejected.
GREAT BRITAIN SQUAD (Ashes series, Australia, from 3 November): P Anderson (Bradford), L Briers (Warrington), D Cardiss (Halifax), B Carney, G Connolly (both Wigan), F Cummins (Leeds), K Cunningham (St Helens), P Deacon (Bradford), A Farrell (Wigan, capt), S Fielden (Bradford), D Fleary (Leeds), L Gilmour (Bradford), D Hodgson, P Johnson (both Wigan), T Jonkers, C Joynt (both St Helens), P King (Hull), B McDermott (Leeds), T Martyn (St Helens), A Morley (Sydney), T Newton, T O'Connor (both Wigan), J Peacock (Bradford), K Pratt (Leeds), L Pryce, L Radford (both Bradford), K Radlinski (Wigan), P Sculthorpe (St Helens), K Senior, K Sinfield (both Leeds), T Smith (Hull), A Stewart (St Helens), N Sykes (Castleford), P Wellens (St Helens).