Rugby League: Hanley looks to Hunte and Joynt in Test: Britain seek pace

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The Independent Online
ST HELENS' Alan Hunte and Chris Joynt are being asked to shine out of position in Great Britain's team to take on Australia in the first Test at Wembley on Saturday.

Hunte, exclusively a wing with Saints this season, is drafted into the centre instead of Paul Newlove, who hopes to have recovered from a torn knee ligament in time for the second Test on 5 November.

Ellery Hanley, Britain's coach, had been about to name Newlove in a provisional team until an examination revealed a tear rather than a strain.

He then promoted Hunte from the bench, bringing in Warrington's Allan Bateman as one of the four substitutes.

'Alan is playing really well at the moment,' Hanley said. 'He is a real confidence player, the sort you can use in several different positions. It wouldn't matter to him if you put him in the second row.'

Hunte has scored an impressive 15 tries for St Helens so far this season and is confident of his ability to adapt. His defensive technique is liable to be tested to the limit, however, by a pair of centres like Mal Meninga and Steve Renouf.

There are fewer qualms concerning Joynt at prop, even though he has only played there on rare occasions with Oldham's A team.

'It is going to be a fast game and the mobility of the forwards will be very important,' Hanley said. Joynt conceded he might have to rein in his talent for damaging running in wide positions. 'But it all depends where the gaps are,' he said. 'I don't expect it to be too different.'

A third St Helens player, and undoubtedly their dominant influence this season, has to settle for a place on the bench. Bobby Goulding was more elated at making the squad than disappointed at not being in the starting line-up. 'Just putting on this shirt for the press conference gives me a 54- inch chest,' he said.

Goulding, who has been used at hooker in training, expects to come on at some stage and is determined to make an impact when he does.

Hanley would admit to no doubts about the fitness of his one specialist hooker, Lee Jackson, who had an X-ray on his wrist on Monday, but Goulding or, in another late change, the uncapped Mick Cassidy could cover the position.

Bob Fulton, Australia's coach, continues to invite guessing games over his scrum-half choice. He named his side yesterday, but left Alan Langer and Ricky Stuart bracketed for arguably the most crucial role of all. The two will not be split until Saturday morning.

Fulton admitted he had no aversion to keeping Great Britain guessing. 'We're comfortable about it,' he said. 'The two of them have proved in their performances so far that it doesn't matter what combination we play. I will keep having a look at them through the week, but I have got an idea who will start.'

Shaun Edwards, Great Britain's captain and scrum-half, expressed only indifference about the conumdrum. 'I'll leave that to Bob Fulton,' he said.

Otherwise, the Australian side is as expected, with Wendell Sailor taking over from the injured Michael Hancock and Ian Roberts and Paul Harragon, originally second-row men, at prop.

GREAT BRITAIN (v Australia, Wembley, Saturday): Davies (Warrington); Robinson, Connolly (Wigan), Hunte (St Helens), Offiah (Wigan); Powell (Sheffield), Edwards (Wigan, capt); Harrison (Halifax), Jackson (Sheffield), Joynt (St Helens), Betts, Farrell, Clarke (Wigan). Substitutes: Goulding (St Helens), Bateman (Warrington), McDermott, Cassidy (Wigan).

AUSTRALIA: Mullins (Canberra); Ettingshausen (Cronulla), Meninga (Canberra, capt), Renouf, Sailor (Brisbane); Daley (Canberra), Langer (Brisbane) or Stuart (Canberra); Roberts (Manly), S Walters (Canberra), Harragon (Newcastle), Sironen (Balmain), Clyde (Canberra), Fittler (Penrith).

Substitutes: Langer or Stuart, Brasher (Balmain), Pay (Canterbury), Furner (Canberra).

Featherstone Rovers last night appointed David Ward as their new coach.

Ward, the former Great Britain hooker and Leeds coach, has been coach at Batley since May 1991. He takes over from the Australian, Steve Martin, who parted with the club last week.

Gus Risman, one of the game's legendary figures, has died in a nursing home in Cumbria at the age of 83.

Obituary, page 16