Thorman vital to Yorkshire's chances

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The Independent Online

Yorkshire have been installed as rank outsiders to win an Origin Game for the first time when they meet Lancashire at Odsal tonight.

Yorkshire have been installed as rank outsiders to win an Origin Game for the first time when they meet Lancashire at Odsal tonight.

Bookmakers are offering odds of 12-5 against the White Rose, which has yet to bloom in this fixture since county matches were reintroduced in 2001. Those are generous odds indeed, and they are based not just on Lancashire's record, but also on the much more experienced squad they are able to put on the field.

Even without the injured Barrie McDermott and Sean Long, they have an embarrassment of riches in some positions, like full-back - where Paul Wellens, Gary Connolly and Steve Prescott are all vying to start - and the back row of the pack, where Andy Farrell, Paul Sculthorpe, Kevin Sinfield and Mike Forshaw must all be accommodated.

Look at their line-up in terms of form rather than reputation, however, and it is not overflowing with players producing their very best week after week. That is where Yorkshire's chance could lie. When they made a habit of winning county matches in their previous manifestation, they rarely had the strongest team on paper, but thrived on lifting themselves for the occasion.

Much tonight will depend on how their "wild card" players cope. One is Chris Thorman, Geordie-born but mentored at Sheffield and Huddersfield and now producing some creative half-back play for the London Broncos. His link with Richard Horne will be crucial.

Another is Andy Lynch, a prop forward with old-fashioned handling skills whose ability to slip the ball out of a tackle has been a major plus for Castleford this season. He will invite an interesting comparison with the equally skilful and expansive Danny Sculthorpe, who will be playing alongside his elder brother for the first time since their schooldays.

Yorkshire will also hope for a lift from their home crowd, but the timing is unfortunate to say the least, as three successive home defeats for Bradford might have had a dampening effect on local enthusiasm.

Hull have confirmed the signing of the New Zealand Test hooker, Richard Swain, on a two-year contract. Swain, who is currently with the Brisbane Broncos, will arrive in time for the start of next season.

Swain's arrival means that the present Hull hooker, Dean Treister, will be looking for a new club for next season. Bradford are favourites to recruit him as the replacement for James Lowes, while another Hull Australian, Craig Greenhill, is being linked with St Helens.

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