Rugby League: Fulton seeks right blend

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The Independent Online
WALES, who meet Australia in Cardiff this afternoon, and Great Britain, who face the tourists in the second Test at Old Trafford next Saturday, have some common problems. They concern Jonathan Davies, who was yesterday ruled out of today's game but has a better chance of being fit for the Test, and Allan Bateman, who played at Wembley despite a hamstring injury.

For all that, it is Australia's Bob Fulton rather than Britain's Ellery Hanley who has more worries. Hanley's side will be decided by fitness considerations, whereas Fulton must make some tough choices.

So many departments of the Australian team failed to function as expected at Wembley that it is hard to know where he should start. Fulton is certainly not putting blame on the shoulders of the scrum-half, Allan Langer,and pointed to the astonishing lack of support when he did make a half-break.

The obvious answer to that is to introduce more mobility in the back row.

Although Fulton has shown an unwavering regard for the size and presence of Paul Sironen, he is cumbersome alongside the likes of Steve Menzies and David Fairleigh.

Both those younger players had splendid games at Sheffield last week, and Fairleigh, Menzies and the threatened species, Sironen, are all earmarked for half a game today.

Rod Wishart's immaculate kicking at Sheffield made out his case for inclusion on the wing. 'The Tests are all going to be pretty close and maybe a goal-kicker will make the difference,' Wishart said after his 12 goals established a tour record. He could come in for the talented, but still relatively raw, Wendell Sailor in the second Test, but both have a chance to impress in Cardiff.

Another feature of Wembley was that Mal Meninga had one of the least effective of his 42 Tests. He, however, is fireproof; his only feasible replacement, Paul McGregor, is injured and Meninga could easily come roaring back at Old Trafford.