Rugby League: Britain given boost by clubs' failure

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The Independent Online
There could be a silver lining for the national side in the abject failure of British clubs in the World Club Challenge. The absence of British teams from the semi-finals this weekend means that Andy Goodway has an unbroken run of three weeks during which to prepare his squad to face Australia in November.

"Purely from the point of view of the national side, it could well be a good thing," the British team manager, Joe Lydon, said. "If Wigan, for instance, had reached the final, we would not have been able to get the full squad together until a week before the first Test."

As it is, the party which will be whittled down to 22 next Tuesday will - with one possible exception - be available to concentrate entirely on preparing for the opening Test at Wembley on 1 November.

The exception is Denis Betts, who plays for Auckland in the WCC semi- final at Brisbane tomorrow. If Auckland reach the final, Betts will join the Great Britain squad a week into its build-up.

Lydon hopes to hear by weekend whether the Australian Rugby League will release Gary Connolly and Jason Robinson for the series.

The turbulence is continuing at promoted Hull, with their football manager and former chief executive, Peter Tunks, leaving at the end of the month after being offered an incentive contract for next season. "I feel I have done what I can with the resources available," Tunks said. Hull have also lost a coach, a chairman and several directors since clinching promotion to Super League.

Blackpool Gladiators, demoted in 1993 and now playing in the Alliance, are to apply to take Oldham's place in the League if they fold under their current problems. Blackpool believe that they have been promised reinstatement if a vacancy occurs. In a separate move, Widnes have applied to take Oldham's place in the First Division if they fail to survive.

Oldham's neighbours, Rochdale Hornets, have offered to put them up at Spotland if they have no ground on which to play next season.

Dave Hadfield