Rugby League: France engage Topliss: Problems for Wigan

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The Independent Online
FRANCE are to borrow the Wakefield Trinity coach, Dave Topliss, to help them prepare for the Test against Great Britain at Headingley next Friday, writes Dave Hadfield.

Topliss, who has also coached the British Under-21 side, is to act as a consultant to the French, who were badly lacking in condition and organisation when Great Britain beat them 48-6 in Carcassonne earlier this month.

Wigan are to go ahead reluctantly with their match against Leigh next Wednesday, having failed in an attempt to get their five Great Britain players released. They will now play Leigh without Shaun Edwards, Andy Platt, Martin Dermott, Phil Clarke and Denis Betts, because a postponement would leave them with an impossible backlog of fixtures.

Wigan are also trying to avoid playing Castleford on 4 April, two days after the Test. The club's chairman, Jack Robinson, said Britain should field an under-strength side against the French, to encourage them and to avoid heavy demands on leading clubs.

'We could lose these two matches and the championship and it's doing France no good either,' he said. All Wigan's players, with the exception of Billy McGinty, have been passed fit for Saturday's Challenge Cup semi-final against Bradford.