Pryce and Calderwood out to impress

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The Independent Online

England's up-and-coming players know that one of them will play himself into the full Great Britain squad when they face the New Zealand tourists at Brentford's Griffin Park tonight.

England's up-and-coming players know that one of them will play himself into the full Great Britain squad when they face the New Zealand tourists at Brentford's Griffin Park tonight.

The incentive is particularly strong for the wingmen, Waine Pryce of Castleford and Leeds' Mark Calderwood, both of whom have impressed for their clubs this year. Given the absence of specialist wingers from the Test squad, an eye-catching performance from one of them could bring promotion.

The same could apply to Paul Sykes, the London Broncos full-back who will be playing on his home ground, but the England A coach John Kear says that the vacancy is wide open. "It depends on who sets the standard, on who fronts up on the night, in front of a crowd the majority of whom could be Kiwis," he said. "Ideally, it would be a back, but if someone else plays stand-out rugby league, he will deserve the spot."

Two who are denied the chance to shine are St Helens' Mick Higham, who has an ankle injury, and Wigan's Martin Aspinwall, who has been left at home with a virus.

The Kiwi coach Gary Freeman has had to mix and match his depleted squad for tonight's match. Bradford's Robbie Paul will play in the unfamiliar position of centre in order to give Nigel Vagana a rest before the game against Wales on Sunday.

Motu Tony, normally a half-back, will be at hooker to give Richard Swain a break, while the reserve hooker, Monty Betham, will be at loose forward, so that Logan Swann can have the evening off.

The formidable prop forward Jerry Seuseu has a more unusual reason for missing out. He has been given time off to complete his revision for a law exam, which he will sit at Staines tomorrow.

The former England player Nathan McAvoy will not necessarily be leaving Bradford for rugby union, according to his coach, Brian Noble. McAvoy, who could not command a place in the Bulls' Grand Final side, has been linked with a move to Gloucester, in the footsteps of his former team-mate Henry Paul. However, Noble says he still wants to retain him, despite signing Shontayne Hape from the New Zealand Warriors for next season. "We still want him to stay and the best bet is that he will," he said. "I can see him playing a lot at centre for us next season."

Kris Tassell will put himself in the shop window when he plays for Wales against the Kiwis on Sunday. Tassell has been told that he is not being offered a contract at Wakefield next year, despite finishing as their leading try scorer this season. "I'm very disappointed because I was led to believe that I would be offered a new deal," said the Australian-born centre, who will consider a switch to rugby union if he gets no offers in league.

Huddersfield have re-signed their prop, Jeff Wittenberg, on a one-year deal. Their coach, Tony Smith, who is in Australia, hopes to announce the club's final import player today.

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