Rugby League: Farrell to lead new-look side

Great Britain have put the missing pieces into place for their Test series against Australia this autumn - to universal approval. Dave Hadfield reports.
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The Great Britain side put any recent uncertainties on to the back burner with the unveiling yesterday of a new kit, a new sponsor, a new member of the coaching staff and a captain who is not completely fresh to the job.

To nobody's surprise, Andy Farrell retains the job of leading Great Britain in the Test series against Australia in November. "I learned a lot captaining Great Britain in New Zealand last year and I'm still learning at Wigan, where I'm still only in my first full season as captain," Farrell said.

It is a mark of his status as a player that he seems to have been leading sides by example if not always by name forever, although he is still only 22.

"I won't have to ask anything of him," the Great Britain coach, Andy Goodway, said. "He will go out there and do what he always does by showing everyone else the way. Andy is a complete player and one of the best three in the world."

Goodway did not dismiss suggestions that Farrell, a commanding loose forward for Wigan, might be needed at stand-off for Great Britain. "Stand- off is a key position and I will have to look at all the options," Goodway said.

Goodway also acquired the final member of his coaching team, the vastly experienced Test player Daryl Powell, who has been appointed support coach for the series.

Powell's own Test career only ended last year in New Zealand, since when he has briefly sampled coaching with Keighley only to be drafted across to Leeds as part of the rescue package for the First Division club.

He commands great respect among the current generation of international players and Goodway sees his role as liaising between those players and management. "There will come times when they don't want me around and Daryl will be the ideal link," Goodway said.

Farrell and his team-mates will wear a re-designed kit bearing the imprint of British Gas. After the problems the game has experienced recently in getting and keeping sponsors, the decision of a high-profile national company to come on board was greeted with delight at the announcement in Leeds.

Great Britain were without a sponsor on last year's loss-making tour and Super League has lost the backing of Stones for next season, so the acquisition of British Gas - and the fact that two other companies were in the bidding - suggests to the League's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay, that there could be a knock-on effect that will benefit other areas of the game.

An official application has been made to the Australian Rugby League for the release of Gary Connolly and Jason Robinson for the Test series, while Australia have given a clue to their thinking by naming the Cronulla scrum-half Paul Green in their side to play New Zealand this Friday.