Rugby League: Davies and Eyres are given British mission

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JONATHAN DAVIES and Richie Eyres, stars of Widnes's march to Wembley, have both won a vote of confidence from the Great Britain coach, Malcolm Reilly, for Friday's Test against France.

Davies will play in his old rugby union position of stand-off for the first time in a league international, while Eyres keeps out Wigan's Denis Betts, a fixture in the Great Britain second row for the last three years.

In the absence of Garry Schofield, suspended by Leeds, Reilly has overcome his old reservations about Davies' tackling. 'Defensively, it is vitally important that he doesn't let anyone past him,' he said. 'As far as the series in New Zealand goes, the ball is in his court.'

Davies is not looking that far ahead. 'I've had a dreadful six months, missing the two biggest events in rugby league - the Ashes and the World Cup final - and I'm just glad to be back,' he said.

Eyres played in the 48-6 victory over France in Carcassonne earlier this month, after Betts had backed out for personal reasons. The Wigan man has been such an integral part of Reilly's Test plans, however, that his omission still ranks as a surprise.

Eyres, though, has been in excellent form for Widnes, while Betts has occasionally looked to be suffering from too much rugby, a possibility of which he has always been aware.

'I don't think it will do Denis's motivation any harm to be on the bench for this one,' Reilly's said.

Leigh have failed in what they have described as their final bid to buy the title deeds of their Hilton Park ground back from their former chairman, Keith Bell. Leigh offered pounds 400,000, but Bell is holding out for the full pounds 650,000 he says he is owed. The club now faces homelessness after its lease expires on 28 May. Talks are now likely to begin on the possibility of moving in with Warrington.

GREAT BRITAIN (v France in the British Coal Test at Headingley; 2 April): A Tait (Leeds); J Devereux (Widnes), P Newlove (Featherstone), G Connolly (St Helens), A Hunte (St Helens); J Davies (Widnes), S Edwards (Wigan); K Harrison (Halifax), M Dermott (Wigan), A Platt (Wigan, capt), R Eyres (Widnes), P Clarke (Wigan), E Hanley (Leeds). Substitutes: M Ford (Castleford), D Betts (Wigan), D Powell (Sheffield), S Nickle (St Helens). Travelling reserves: A Bateman (Warrington), K Fairbank (Bradford).

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