Rugby League: Edwards baffled by dispute with Stains

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The Independent Online
DAN STAINS, the London Broncos coach, has defended his decision to tell his captain, Shaun Edwards, to stay away from training. Stains effectively barred the game's most decorated player from the club after he missed a session on Tuesday in order to attend the draw for the World Cup, in which he is to represent Ireland.

"It's not about one training session," Stains said. "It's about what's in a player's heart and mind. We're building a club here and no individual can be more important than that."

Edwards, who will be out for at least another month with a broken thumb, claimed to be baffled by Stains' reaction. "I took it for granted that the club knew about it," he said. "I tried to get in touch with Dan, but I couldn't. I left early and didn't even have any lunch, so I'm very surprised and disappointed.

"I've only done what I've been told to do - to go and promote the World Cup, which is the biggest thing which has ever happened in rugby league."

In turn, Stains said that he was disappointed that Edwards had gone public on a matter which he had hoped to keep in-house. "He's bitter and resentful about it, but I thought he was a bigger man than that," he said.

When fit, Edwards has been a vital man for London since he returned there last season, but this affair has echoes of his latter days at Wigan and his ill-fated season at Bradford, during both of which there was a running dialogue about when he would and wouldn't train.

There is no place for Edwards' closest friend, Martin Offiah, in London's team to play Wigan tomorrow night as Dominic Peters and Rob Smyth retaining the wing positions.

The Wigan side will also have a deeply unfamiliar look to it, with Andy Farrell missing his first match in three and half seasons of Super League. Farrell, like Gary Connolly, has been told to sit out the next two weeks with an ankle injury. Mick Cassidy stands in for Farrell at loose forward, while Jon Clarke makes his first-team return after serving time in a young offenders' institution for assault.

Bradford have filled the overseas vacancy left by the retirement of Danny Peacock by signing Phil Howlett from South Sydney. The 24-year-old centre played for Tonga in the 1995 World Cup.

Papua New Guinea's national hero, Adrian Lam, could be under pressure to change his affiliation after leading Queensland to a 9-8 win over New South Wales in the first State of Origin game in Brisbane yesterday.

Lam, brought up in Queensland, could opt to play for Australia rather than leading the Kumuls in next year's World Cup, which would be a major blow to PNG's chances of qualifying from their group.

Mat Rogers kicked all Queensland's points, with four penalties and the winning drop goal six minutes from time.

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