Rugby League: Broncos cleared for club showdown

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WIGAN and Brisbane are to complete a remarkable double bill for the game by playing for world club honours six days after the World Cup final between Great Britain and Australia, writes Dave Hadfield.

The champion clubs from the two countries will meet at Central Park, Wigan, on Friday, 30 October, the British authorities having decided that Brisbane's enthusiasm for the fixture represented a chance too good to miss.

Eight members of the Broncos' Premiership-winning side are already in Britain as part of the Australian squad. The rest will fly out in time to watch the World Cup final at Wembley on 24 October and then go straight into training for the game at Wigan, which is a guaranteed sell-out, with a capacity of just over 30,000.

The League's spokesman, David Howes, said the idea of asking Wigan's fans to travel to a bigger venue had been ruled out because of the amount of travelling many of them have done in support of club and country.

Phil Clarke will be available for the World Cup final, but will miss Wigan's home league game with Leeds on Sunday, plus the Lancashire Cup final against St Helens on 18 October. The Wigan loose- forward was yesterday given a two-match ban by a disciplinary committee for a high tackle at Leigh last weekend.

It will be the fourth playing of the World Club Challenge. Wigan, the instigators, beat Manly at Central Park five years ago. Since then, Widnes have beaten Canberra at Old Trafford and Wigan defeated Penrith at Anfield last year. Brisbane, with a wealth of internationals to rival Wigan's for Britain, and with their enthusiasm for the match, will be a tougher proposition than any of their predecessors.

Huddersfield will give their second-row forward Richard Pearson his first-team debut on his 18th birthday against Australia tonight, Pearson will replace David Oates, who has a broken leg.

Three Australians are also in line to play against their fellow- countrymen: the Queenslander, Rion Pearce, in the pack, and two backs from New South Wales country rugby, Jason Laurence and Brad Davis, who originally came to play for Nottingham City.

Australia's coach, Bob Fulton, said the game is a practice for his squad, rather than a full-scale tour match. Significantly, they will wear a new change strip rather than the green and gold.

Andy Currier is the latest Widnes back to want to leave the club. Currier wants to join another former international centre, Darren Wright, on the transfer- list. The reserve full-back, Paul Acheson, has agreed to join Wigan in exchange for David Myers, who is rejoining his original club after months of dissatisfaction at Central Park.