Kiwi call at last for Paul

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The Independent Online
Followers of the game in the north of England will greet the promotion of Henry Paul to tonight's starting line-up as a rare intrusion of sanity in the New Zealand selection process, writes Dave Hadfield.

The Wigan utility back, one of the most glittering talents in the sport, has so far been used only with the most extreme caution by the Kiwi coach, Frank Endacott, and there seemed little early promise that such a scandalous waste of ability would be rectified during this World Cup.

However, for tonight's game against Papua New Guinea at St Helens, Paul has selected at stand-off ahead of Gene Ngamu.

Apart from the enforced change which sees Gary Freeman in for the disgraced Syd Eru, a match that New Zealand need only win or draw to reach the semi- finals sees the recall of Jason Williams in place of Richard Barnett and the inclusion of Mark Horo for Tony Iro.

One surprise, however, is that there is no place for the vice captain, John Lomax, who is now clear of suspension.

Martin Offiah is likely to be fit to play for England against South Africa tomorrow and Gary Connolly will attempt to train for the first time since his bout of pneumonia on Monday.

Australia have instigated a number of changes to their line-up for their third qualifying match tomorrow. Robbie O'Davis and Brett Dallas are given the wing spots for the clash with the Fijians, while Andrew Johns is in at hooker. His goalkicking prowess is required in the absence of Rod Wishart, out of this match with a slight thigh strain. Gary Larsen will play after being drafted in to replace the injured Paul Harragon.

NEW ZEALAND (Group Two v Papua New Guinea, St Helens, today): Ridge (Manly, capt); Hoppe (Auckland), Blackmore (Auckland), Wiki (Canberra), Williams (Sydney Bulldogs); Paul (Wigan), Jones (Auckland); Pongia (Canberra), Freeman (Penrith), Lowrie (Sydney City), Kearney (Auckland), Horo (Sydney Wests), Kemp (Leeds). Substitutes: Ngamu (Auckland), Okesene (Auckland), K Iro (Leeds), T Iro (Sydney City).

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Buko (Goroka); Kops (Hagen Eagles), Gomia (Goroka), Okul (Moorebank), Kouoru; Gene (Goroka), Lam (Sydney City, capt); Yer (Mendi Muruks), Paiyo (Port Moresby), Westley, Tiri, Angra (both Hagen Eagles), Mamando. Substitutes: Tela (Mendi Muruks), Solbat (Rabaul), Bai, Biri (Port Moresby).

AUSTRALIA (Group One v Fiji, McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield, tomorrow): Brasher (Sydney Tigers); O'Davis (Newcastle), Coyne (St George), Hill (Manly), Dallas (Sydney Bulldogs); Fittler (Penrith, capt), Toovey (Manly); Carroll (Manly), A Johns (Newcastle), Pay (Sydney Bulldogs), Menzies (Manly), Larsen (North Sydney), Dymock (Sydney Bulldogs). Substitutes: Smith (Sydney Bulldogs), M Johns (Newcastle), McGregor (Illawarra), Kosef (Manly).

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