Rugby League: Bell stays unswayed

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The Independent Online
HOWIE TAMATI, the New Zealand coach, has failed in his attempt to persuade Dean Bell out of international retirement to face Great Britain in the three-Test series that starts next weekend, writes Dave Hadfield.

Bell, who bowed out of Test rugby after the Kiwis' last tour here four years ago, has spoken to Tamati about the possibility of a comeback, but has decided to continue to concentrate on playing for Wigan, whom he will captain against the tourists on Sunday.

'Howie asked me if I would make myself available, but I've decided that this would not be the right time,' Bell said.

The Wigan centre could have slotted into his other position of loose forward if Tamati's first

choice, Tawera Nikau, is

suspended at tonight's disciplinary hearing in Leeds. Nikau, capped 15 times and the Kiwis' regular loose forward since 1990, was sent off for a high tackle playing for Castleford on Sunday.

A suspension of more than two matches, now that the League has ruled that Castleford's match against New Zealand next Tuesday will count towards any ban, would rule Nikau out of the first Test at Wembley on 16 October.

Nikau may be helped by his good disciplinary record. He has not been sent off during his spell in Britain with Castleford, Sheffield Eagles and Ryedale-York. And, although such considerations are supposed to be irrelevant, it is almost as rare for a player to miss a Test through suspension as it is to miss a Challenge Cup final.