Rugby League: Britain left in sevens limbo

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The Independent Online
IF the national rugby league side are not to become a vehicle for those who are available to play, as opposed to those who are deemed worthy of selection, Great Britain's team hierarchy will have to turn their indignation over sevens absentees into something more positive than easily forgotten reprimands.

Great Britain's performance in the Sydney Sevens, now in its third year as an international event, and which has already attracted 54,000 spectators with every prospect of a 41,000 full house today, was hardly worthy of a nation with pretentions of overturning the Australians this autumn.

Despite brave words and braver attitudes, the squad who arrived were just not strong enough. The players who pulled out have their consciences to live with but, platitude though it may be, must surely be made to realise that they are not above the game.

The faint mathematical chance of survival into the Cup round proper was sunk yesterday by Canberra, winning 14-8 to impose a second preliminary round defeat after Friday's reverse against Western Samoa.

Great Britain were always battling from behind, catching up with tries from Graham Steadman and Jonathan Davies, the first a straight-line gallop over half the field, the second a typical piece of Davies's legerdemain. A try for Paul Medley could have brought about another tie, but it was offside.

So, Britain, whose representatives two years ago, Wigan, won this tournament, and who were posted favourites for the title when the original squad was announced, will battle for the wooden-spoon Plate in the company of Russia, Japan and the US. The root and branch of the game are taking lessons from the twigs.

Great Britain: Tries Steadman, Davies. Canberra: Tries Wiki, Stone, Furner; Goal Furner.

GREAT BRITAIN (from): Steadman (Castleford), Ellis (Castleford), Tait (Leeds), Davies (Warrington), Bentley (Halifax), Pearson (Featherstone Rovers), Jackson (Sheffield), Medley (Bradford Northern), Joynt (St Helens), Clarke (Wigan).

Canberra: R Wiki, L Daley, B Mullins, K Nagas, D Westley, D Lomax, K Alexander, S Stone, D Boyle, D Furner.

(Photograph omitted)