World Cup plan given thumbs-up

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The Independent Online

Australia is to host a World Cup in 2008 to celebrate the centenery of the game there. The Rugby League International Federation in Sydney has given the go-ahead for the tournament, which will be the first to be held since the heavy financial losses incurred by the World Cup in 2000.

Although details are still to be worked out, the suggestions are that it will involve eight or 10 nations, as opposed to the highly ambitious 16 that competed in 2000, although there could well be a parallel tournament for the less powerful countries.

Maurice Lindsay, who stood down last week as vice-chairman of the RLIF but who will help to organise the tournament in his new capacity as a life member, predicted that the lessons of 2000 would be learned and that it will be "the best World Cup ever".

The federation also discussed holding a "developing players" tournament in New Zealand and a World Youth Cup in Moscow. There is also the possibility of a tournament in 2007 to commemorate the first-ever overseas tour, by the New Zealand All Golds in 1907.

The Federation is also expected to approve a change to this year's inaugural Tri-Nations competition, under which New Zealand and Australia will play their first game in New Zealand before heading to Britain for the rest of the matches. That means the tournament will start a few days later than planned, avoiding the potentially low-key start of a Tuesday night international, just 10 days after the Super League Grand Final.

Wests-Tigers, who won the World Sevens in Sydney at the weekend, have offered trials to two Russian players who appeared in the tournament. Evgeny Bojoukov, of Lokomotiv Moscow, and Sergey Dobrynine, of Dinamo Moscow, are both due to play for their clubs in the Challenge Cup next month, but Wests have asked them to stay in Sydney.

Castleford confirmed that the Australian three-quarter Paul Mellor will miss the start of the season after suffering medial ligament damage in a friendly at Bradford on Sunday.

Wakefield's new signing, Semi Tadulala, who has had an ankle operation, could also miss the start of the season.