Rugby league: Ireland enlist Connolly & co

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The Independent Online
IRELAND HAVE named nine Great Britain internationals in their 24-man squad for the triangular series against Scotland and France. The squad, captained by Salford's Martin Crompton, includes Leeds' Adrian Morley and Gary Connolly, of Wigan, who are virtual certainties for Great Britain's Tests against New Zealand this autumn.

Others, such as London's Shaun Edwards and Mick Cassidy, who has agreed a new, two-year contract at Wigan, will be on the fringes of Andy Goodway's team, which could affect their availability for the games against France in Dublin on 4 November and against Scotland in Glasgow two weeks later.

Even so, the Irish coach, Steve O'Neill, still feels he has the players to win the tournament. "There are some real quality players on show in this tournament and it will provide a perfect forerunner for the Rugby League's ambitions to start a five nations' championship," he said.

The managing director of Super League, Maurice Lindsay, has defended plans for an extended league season, intended to boost clubs' revenue, next year. The proposals for extra midweek games have been criticised by coaches, players and the Great Britain management.

"The proposed 30-game Super League in 1999 cannot be compared to past years when players were involved in a Charity Shield, County Cups, the War of the Roses, the Regal Trophy, the Challenge Cup, the Premiership and a 16-team league," he said.

"I was chairman of a leading club for almost a decade and twice the Great Britain tour manager. I believe that I am well placed to make a judgement on over-playing. Everyone in the game wants exciting international football, but that is not possible without a thriving club structure."

Lindsay also said that, contrary to the Rugby League's view, he did not expect the game as a whole to have to ratify a new fixture structure.

IRELAND SQUAD (Triangular Tournament): Burgess (Salford), Carney (Dublin Blues), Cassidy (Wigan), Child (Featherstone), Cleary (Dublin Blues), Connolly (Wigan), Crompton (Salford, capt), Dwyer (Bradford), Eccles (Salford), Edwards (London), Forster (Warrington), Grey (Bangor Vikings), Harmon (Bradford), Hayes (St Helens), Lowes (Bradford), Martyn (St Helens), McDermott (Leeds), Morley (Leeds), O'Connor (Wigan), O'Sullivan (Dublin Blues), Pickavance (St Helens), Prescott (Hull), Ryan (Dublin Blues), Smith (Hull KR).