Wales plunder union veterans to prop up side

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The Independent Online

Two veteran former rugby league players with a combined age of 70 are in line to return to the game to play for Wales in their Lincoln Financial World Cup quarter-final against Papua New Guinea on Sunday. The Welsh coach, Clive Griffiths, gained permission from Swansea yesterday to borrow Paul Moriarty as well as Bridgend's John Devereux for the game at their old home ground in Widnes.

Two veteran former rugby league players with a combined age of 70 are in line to return to the game to play for Wales in their Lincoln Financial World Cup quarter-final against Papua New Guinea on Sunday. The Welsh coach, Clive Griffiths, gained permission from Swansea yesterday to borrow Paul Moriarty as well as Bridgend's John Devereux for the game at their old home ground in Widnes.

"There are faxes going backwards and forwards," said Griffiths. "It is just a matter now of sorting out the insurance details for Paul, and then we will have them both on board."

The need for Moriarty has become more acute with the loss of Garreth Carvell, the young Hull forward who was earmarked to take David Whittle's place in the front row. He has a rib injury, so Justin Morgan will move up front, with Paul Highton likely to slot into the second row.

"That means we could use Paul off the bench, when they get a bit tired," said Griffiths.

Highton, 36, has not played rugby league since a handful of appearances with Halifax in 1996. Devereux, two years younger, has been back in rugby union since 1997, but has no qualms about switching to league again -- however briefly.

Devereux's chances of startingcould depend on whether Kris Tassell shakes off a thigh strain. The pair will revive memories of Welsh heroics in the last World Cup in 1995, when both played in the team that reached the semi-finals.

Another member of that squad, the St Helens hooker, Keiron Cunningham, will be fit to face PNG after missing the New Zealand match last Sunday with hamstring, back and ankle injuries.

Stuart Spruce, who was earmarked to play full-back for England against Ireland at Headingley tomorrow, has been ruled out after injuring a knee in training. The English coach, John Kear, has the choice between Kris Radlinski and Paul Wellens for the role, with the other certain to play in the threequarter line.

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