Thorman faces final misery

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The Independent Online

The Huddersfield coach Jon Sharp is adamant that he will not play his captain in the Challenge Cup final on Saturday unless he is fully fit. Hopes are fading for Chris Thorman, whose hamstring injury threatens his place against St Helens in what would be the biggest game of his life.

Sharp said: "He's looking extremely doubtful, but we're not ruling him out. It's a race against time. He's a very special player to us - our captain and a fantastic leader. He has a big part to play in what we do."

Despite that, Sharp says he will be reluctant to take a risk on Thorman, who is having acupuncture treatment and could have a fitness test on the Twickenham pitch immediately before the game. "If you play injured players in finals, history shows it often comes back to bite you," he said.

As well as Thorman, the Giants have Brad Drew, Stuart Donlan and Martin Aspinwall all feeling their way back after badly timed injuries. That could create an opportunity for the 19-year-old half-back Tom Hemingway, who made his first start of the season at Wigan on Friday.

"It would be no risk with Tom," Sharp insisted. "I thought he was outstanding at Wigan. Every Super League game he has played he has looked comfortable."

Saints' Daniel Anderson has the opposite problem as he tries to decide who to leave out. After resting virtually a full first team at the Catalans Dragons on Saturday, he has the luxury of a fully fit squad from which to choose. That includes the long-term shoulder injury victim Mike Bennett, who is not in his 20-man squad, and Jason Hooper, who is.

That will still see Anderson leave out international-class players. "It says nothing about the way they have played," he said. "Every one of them has played exceptionally well. I'm just considering the best balance to play against Huddersfield."

Saints' hooker, Keiron Cunningham, has reiterated that he is retiring from playing for Great Britain, despite conflicting reports at the weekend. Cunningham has told Brian Noble that he is not available for the Tri-Nations this autumn and insists he will not be lured back afterwards. He could, however, still decide to play for Wales.

For Great Britain, Bradford's Terry Newton now looks likely to play in the tournament this year, after doubts about his availability.