Uncapped Prince earns chance to keep King Johns' throne warm

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The Independent Online

"It was a really difficult decision," said the Kangaroos coach, Wayne Bennett. "Craig Gower is a fine player and Trent Barrett could have played there as well. But Scott has had an outstanding season, especially the second half. He's very skilful and played some wonderful football for the Tigers this year."

Prince described his elevation from also-ran to Test half-back as "awesome". "It's been a long season, but I'm feeling eager and enthusiastic and I'm going to make the most of it," he said.

Prince's inclusion is the only change in Australia's starting line-up from their last game against New Zealand, although Bennett has listed two injured forwards, Willie Mason and Nathan Hindmarsh, among his possible substitutes. Hindmarsh, however, said yesterday that he did not expect to play, but will be fit for the match in France the following weekend.

Great Britain's coach, Brian Noble, may name his team today for a game which they need to win in order to have a realistic chance of reaching the final of the tournament.

One of his uncapped players, the Hull prop Jamie Thackray, has urged Noble to give him his chance after leaving him out against the Kiwis. "I was gutted," Thackray said. "It was horrible watching. I felt sick, because I thought I had a good chance of playing. I could have offered a bit. If I get a chance this week I won't disappoint. All I need is one game to prove to Brian what I can do."

Bennett said that there was too much "doom and gloom" in Britain following last Saturday's defeat by New Zealand. "The same thing happened to us in game one," he said. "They're a very good football team and if you lost to them at the moment it's not a disgrace."

Harlequins RL - the new name for the London Broncos - have poured cold water on suggestions that Henry Paul could be on his way back to rugby league with them. Paul, previously with Wakefield, Wigan and Bradford, is out of favour at Gloucester's rugby union side and rumours are circulating that he could return to his original code.

"If he was available, if he was not going to cost as much as he is now and if we could reassure ourselves that he is fit, then we would be interested," said HRL's chief executive, Nic Cartwright. "But it is absolutely miles away from being something that is going to happen."

Much more imminent is the signing of the Welsh international prop David Mills from Widnes, which the club plans to announce this week. They have also been in talks with Salford's 19-year-old stand-off, Tim Hartley.

Castleford have re-signed their Australian centre or loose forward, Deon Bird, for next season. The 29-year-old will also help to coach the academy team.