Kirk Yeaman faces one of the most formidable tasks in rugby league on Saturday, even though neither he nor his coach know exactly what that task will be. The 23-year-old Hull player will make his Test debut at left centre against Australia in Sydney, with the likely job of marking either Jamie Lyon or Mark Gasnier, the two best centres in the game.
"We need to have a look at him at the highest level," said the Great Britain coach, Brian Noble, of the decision to play him rather than Martin Gleeson. "He scored 23 tries last season and looked good. He's got talent and he's got a good attitude and, when you get the two together, it makes a good player."
Playing Yeaman in his usual club position of left centre means shifting Keith Senior to the right, where he has not played with any regularity in recent years. "He's more comfortable on the right than Kirk and I remember him being man of the match for Leeds in a game against Bradford," Noble said.
Mind you, Noble is far from convinced about the composition of the Australia side. "My information is that there are going to be a few changes to the Australian line-up and I think that [Jamie] Lyon is going to start on the bench and Justin Hodges is going to play," he said.
Whatever the truth of that, it is not going to be an easy baptism for Yeaman and the decision to drop Gleeson has not been taken lightly. "You don't like to do that to someone who has been part and parcel of the international scene for the last three years," Noble said. "Martin is well aware of what he has to do to get back into the team and, if I was a gambling man, I think he will."
Noble's captain, Jamie Peacock, moves up to prop, Adrian Morley goes to the bench and Gareth Hock starts a Test for the first time in the second row. The St Helens back-rower, John Wilkin, will make his Test debut from the bench.
Noble insists that Morley, at the centre of controversy after being charged with two offences after the Christchurch game, has not been demoted. " We've got to get away from thinking that."
Meanwhile, Leon Pryce has caused outrage in the Australian media by saying that he would rather be at home in Bradford than in Sydney, and that he prefers Blackpool to Bondi Beach. "They can keep the country to themselves," said Pryce, who has been dubbed the "whinging winger" by Australia's press.
Great Britain (v Australia, Sydney, 4 Nov): Wellens; Carney, Senior, Yeaman, Pryce; McGuire, Long; Fielden, Newton, Peacock, Ellis, Hock, O'Loughlin. Substitutes: Roby, Morley, Gilmour, Wilkin, Raynor.Reuse content