Rugby League: Australia rely on family virtues

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The Independent Online
THREE Walters brothers and eight members of the wider family that is the Brisbane Broncos are the defining features of the 22- man Australian squad for the World Cup final at Wembley on 24 October.

The twins, Kevin and Kerrod Walters, of Brisbane, both toured with the 1990 Kangaroos. An unprecedented family trio is completed by their elder brother, Steve, from Canberra, who is the present Australian hooker but will have to compete with Kerrod for that role this time. In the absence of the injured Laurie Daley, Kevin Walters is the likely choice at stand-off.

Brisbane's heavy representation is a fair reflection of their dominance in domestic competition this year, culminating in their 28-8 victory over St George in the Winfield Cup grand final in Sydney on Sunday. Steve Renouf, the scorer of a spectacular try in that match, is one of three uncapped players in the party.

The others are Tim Brasher, of Balmain, and Newcastle's Brad Godden, who have earned the right to bid for the full-back position ahead of other fancied candidates such as Mick Potter, of St George, and Julian O'Neill, who could have become the ninth Brisbane player in the squad.

Full-back is the position where Australian intentions are unclear and intriguing. Godden is a specialist, but has only emerged as a first-grader this season and has no representative experience.

Brasher, who turned down the chance to join Leigh in order to stay in Australia to stake his claim, plays at wing and centre for Balmain. The former Balmain and Australia full-back, Garry Jack, who is now with Sheffield, says, however, that Brasher is still the best man available for the job.

A third possibility would be Willie Carne, who has played there with mixed success for Brisbane, but that seems unlikely. The probability, therefore, is that a new full-back will be making his Test debut at Wembley.

Elsewhere, the squad shows the faith of its coach, Bob Fulton, in the value of continuity. Of the 17 players on duty when Australia clinched a 2-1 Ashes series victory in Brisbane in July, only the injured pair of Daley and Andrew Ettingshausen miss this trip.

The addition who stands the best chance of forcing his way into the side for the Wembley match is Mark Sargent, the Newcastle prop whose form towards the end of the Australian season was the best of his career. The squad will arrive next Monday and will play warm-up matches against Huddersfield, Sheffield Eagles and Cumbria before the final.

AUSTRALIAN SQUAD: Backs: Brasher (Balmain), Carne (Brisbane), Fittler (Penrith), Godden (Newcastle), Hancock, Johns, Langer (Brisbane), Meninga (Canberra, capt), Renouf (Brisbane), Stuart (Canberra), Kevin Walters (Brisbane). Forwards: Cartwright (Penrith), Gillespie (Western Suburbs), Harragon (Newcastle), Lazarus (Brisbane), Lindner (Western Suburbs), Mackay (St George), Clyde (Canberra), Sargent (Newcastle), Sironen (Balmain), Kerrod Walters (Brisbane), Steve Walters (Canberra).

Swinton, who play Wigan in a Lancashire Cup tie at their new home, Gigg Lane in Bury, tonight, will decide by the end of the week whether to call in an administrator to take charge of their financial affairs.