Rugby League: Goodway hands reins to Harris

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The Independent Online
"HE THINKS too much," says one former team-mate of the Great Britain coach, Andy Goodway. "The best team talks I've ever had have been `We'll play that way in the first half, the other way in the second half and try to have our best 13 players on the field'."

All being well, Goodway will be a lot closer to that simple recipe for success in the second Test against New Zealand at Bolton this evening than he was in the first match of the series.

His vital first step was to elevate Iestyn Harris into his starting line-up. Although he has been trying to play this down as no big deal, it crucially alters and improves the balance of the side by providing a range of attacking options to test the Kiwis from the kick-off.

The danger is that the delay in putting his faith in Harris will put the player under extra pressure to perform instantaneously, but all the Leeds captain has to do is trust to his rugby instincts the way he has in club games and all will be well.

Whether all will be well with Adrian Morley is another matter. Harris's Leeds team-mate missed the first Test with an ankle injury, but came through a fitness test yesterday.

"He trained and will play," said the Great Britain manager, Phil Lowe, although some close to the squad are far from convinced that he is capable of making much of a contribution.

A fit Morley, with his running power and explosive tackling, would add a dimension to Britain's forward play, but if he is included, it must be regarded as a risk. Darren Fleary can consider himself unlucky to be dropped from the 17, as can Paul Sculthorpe from the starting team. One way or another, though, he is likely to spend plenty of time in action.

The New Zealand coach, Frank Endacott, now has four consecutive victories over Great Britain to his credit and has not surprisingly resisted any temptation to tamper with a winning formula, although Henry Paul must have been close to a starting place.

One certainty is that he will spend more time on the field than off it. Syd Eru, whose place at hooker was taken by Paul for more than half of the match at Huddersfield, can clearly feel his breath on the back of his neck. When the rest of the Kiwis went out to celebrate their victory last Sunday, he was the conspicuous absentee - a degree of conscientiousness that shows his fears for his place.

Endacott's options are broadened by the ability of his captain, Quentin Pongia, to last the full 80 minutes in the front row the way he did last week.

"Quentin is the Rolls-Royce of props," says Endacott. In fact, he is more of a rugged utility vehicle, with high mileage and low maintenance - and Britain must drive him harder today if they are to blunt the Kiwi forward effort.

"We need to take the ball forward more before moving it out," said the Great Britain prop, Neil Cowie, analysing what went wrong at Huddersfield. If he and Dale Laughton, starting his first Test, can do that and a 25,000 full house at the Reebok Stadium gets behind them, then Goodway's team should have the fire-power to level the series.

Wakefield Trinity's application to join Super League next season has been deferred again. The First Division champions were due to hear yesterday whether the independent franchise panel would accept their revised application.

However, a Rugby League spokesman said that the club had submitted so much new information that the panel needed more time to study it. A binding decision is now expected next week.

Huddersfield have signed the forward Andrew Tangata-Toa from the Australian club St George. The 24-year-old Kiwi is yet another addition to the Giants' squad as the new coach, Malcolm Reilly, aims to improve on last season's bottom place.

The former New Zealand Test forward Kevin Tamati, sacked as manager of the Second Division champions, Lancashire Lynx, in September, has been appointed the head coach of Whitehaven. The 45-year-old, a former player with Widnes, Warrington and Salford, succeeds the Australian Stan Martin, who resigned at the end of the season.

Tamati, who was coach at Salford from 1989-93, has joined the Cumbrian First Division club on a two-year contract.


Probable teams for second Lincoln Test at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton

Radlinski Wigan 1 Barnett Sydney City

Robinson Wigan 2 Hoppe Auckland

Connolly Wigan 3 Wiki Canberra

Newlove St Helens 4 K Iro St Helens

Senior Sheffield 5 Halligan Canterbury

Harris Leeds 6 R Paul Bradford

Smith Wigan 7 Jones Auckland

Cowie Wigan 8 Pongia Auckland (capt)

Cunninham St Helens 9 Eru Auckland

Laughton Sheffield 10 Vagana Auckland

Morley Leeds 11 Kearney Auckland

Joynt St Helens 12 McCracken Parramatta

Farrell Wigan (capt) 13 Swann Auckland

Referee: B Harrigan (Australia) Kick-off: 6.00pm

Substitutes: O'Connor (Wigan), Sculthorpe (St Helens), Haughton (Wigan), Gilmour (Wigan).

Substitutes: H Paul (Wigan), T Iro (Adelaide), Cayless (Parramatta), Puletua (Penrith).