Sunday Preview: Fa'afili's chance to fly back into Kiwis reckoning
Sunday 28 May 2006
The New Zealand coach, Brian McClennan, has been deprived of the chance to run the rule over one of the pillars of his pack today, but he will still be able to assess the claims of two other Warrington players for inclusion against Great Britain next month.
McClennan is on a flying visit to England to update himself on the form of the British-based Kiwis from whom he will select his side for 27 June. The timing of his trip means that he has been able to watch two local derbies - Bradford versus Leeds on Friday night and Wigan-St Helens yesterday.
Today's meeting between Warrington and Castleford might not have the same intensity and he will not see the 32-year-old prop, Paul Rauhihi, play. Rauhihi was part of the Tri-Nations-winning pack last autumn, but he will be out of action until August with a damaged disc in his back.
The afternoon at the Halliwell Jones Stadium will not be wasted, however, because Henry Fa'afili will be on the Wolves' right wing. Fa'afili has fallen out of international favour, but he has been in fine form in Super League, where he is third-leading try-scorer with 16. His partnership with the GB centre, Martin Gleeson, is arguably the best in the competition.
McClennan will also be able to see Logan Swann, a back-rower who has got his form back since moving to Warrington from Bradford at the start of last season. Had he chosen instead to be a spectator at today's game between Hull and Huddersfield, he might have found himself wishing that Richard Swain would reverse his decision to retire from internationals. Swain has been exceptional at hooker for Hull since the arrival of their new coach, Peter Sharp, but they also have his likely replacement at number nine in the versatile Motu Tony.
McClennan could be more interested in him than in another player who has filled the role for New Zealand, Huddersfield's Robbie Paul. With his eyes fixed firmly on the Tri-Nations and the 2008 World Cup, he will he homing in on younger players than Paul and his elder brother, Henry, now feeling his way back with Harlequins.
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