Rugby League: Britain have pace

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The Independent Online
Great Britain's team for the fourth World Sevens, which begins tomorrow in Brisbane and continues in Sydney on Saturday and Sunday, have not been given much of a chance by the local pundits but, even without the late withdrawal through injury of Martin Offiah, they could spring the sort of surprise that brought Wigan victory in the inaugural 1992 event. Britain must get off to a better start than last year, when they finished competing in the wooden spoon Plate competition. Then all the participants were guaranteed a run on the final day. This time, failure to reach at least second place in their four-team group will mean elimination.

Of their first-round opponents, St George are fielding a strong squad, but the other Sydney sides, Norths and Penrith, seem weighted towards younger players with, like the Great Britain, side, only a leavening of experience.

That experience is provided by Denis Betts, John Bentley, Chris Joynt and Lee Jackson, who can muster around 40 international appearances between them. The rest of the 10-man squad looks quick enough to make an impression, with Francis Cummins, Steve Blakeley and Paul Sterling all natural wingers, and the remainder all drawn from the threequarter line.

Great Britain's first-round matches are both on Saturday, when they meet Penrith and St George.

Great Britain squad (World Sevens, Brisbane, 3 February): D Betts (Wigan), J Bentley (Halifax), S Blakeley (Salford), F Cummins (Leeds), L Jackson (Sheffield), C Joynt, S Prescott (both St Helens), T Smith (Castleford), P Sterling (Hull), N Summers (Bradford Northern).

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