Rugby League: Goodway sees solution

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ANDY GOODWAY, the Great Britain coach, has called for a reduction in the number of overseas players in the country as a way of revitalising the national side.

Goodway, under fire after Great Britain's dismal failure in the Tri-Series in Australasia, says that the number of imports in Super League is weakening his options.

"There are just too many overseas players," he said. "It's killing our game at international level. When I first took the Great Britain job, I made a list of the possibilities in various positions; in some positions, the list was two names long."

With Britain's limitations at Test level so brutally exposed by Australia and New Zealand, Goodway's sentiments may find some sympathy at official level. At the moment, Super League clubs are allowed five imports apiece, although exempt players and the waiving of the rule for London and Gateshead increases the numbers of overseas players dramatically.

It is widely perceived that, as in cricket before stricter limits were applied, overseas specialists in some roles are restricting the flow of home-grown talent. The problem positions in Britain are centre, half-back and prop - all of which are currently heavily staffed by Australians and New Zealanders.

Ironically, Goodway's blast comes at a time when his club, Wigan, has been trying and failing to enlist the Australian Test stand-off, Matthew Johns, for next season.

Johns, who played for Australia in the victory over Great Britain at Lang Park earlier in the current Tri-Series, has been approached and has told Wigan players that he is interested. But he has another year of his contract to run at Newcastle Knights and is not prepared to break that, so it would be 2001 at the earliest before Wigan could get him on board.

The coach of the new Huddersfield-Sheffield club, John Kear, has had more success. In New Zealand as part of the British back-up staff, he is about to sign the former Kiwi Test forward, David Lomax. Kear is also close to signing Gavin Clinch, the Australian scrum-half signed by Wigan from Halifax last season but now apparently unwanted.

Wigan's Jason Robinson is the latest Briton to reveal that he would be interested in joining an Australian club when his current contract expires at the end of next season. Robinson will be within six months of qualifying for a testimonial, but he is keen to have a new challenge in Australia.