Rugby League: Laughton aims for Test place

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The Independent Online
DALE LAUGHTON has eased fears about his Great Britain prospects by turning up unexpectedly for their squad get together in the Lake District yesterday.

The Sheffield Eagles prop, who played Test rugby for the first time against New Zealand last autumn, was ruled out for the rest of the season by his coach, John Kear, after injuring rib cartilages against Castleford on Saturday.

"Dale has had more injuries this season than in the rest of his career," Kear said.

Laughton was far more optimistic yesterday, though. "It hurts a lot, but it's not as serious as the physio first thought," he said. "I could play in the last four games of the season and I'd be very disappointed if it got in the way of playing for Great Britain."

The Great Britain coach, Andy Goodway, had a full turn-out for the team- building exercise, based on what the Lions have done before rugby union tours, including Paul Newlove, who caused some consternation by staying away last time.

Great Britain launched a new kit, which for the first time includes the green of Ireland, and hope to arrange a warm up game before they meet Australia and New Zealand in this autumn's Tri-Series. They plan to play the Gold Coast based semi-professional side, the Burleigh Bears, the week before meeting Australia in Brisbane this October.

Super League clubs meet at Headingley today to decide whether to cut back to a 12-team competition in 2001 and whether to introduce a system of awarding franchises.

The proposals will ring alarm bells for clubs such as Halifax and Salford, but Super League's chairman, Chris Caisley, said: "We have to recognise that the face of sport is changing all the time. We need to ensure that rugby league is in the forefront of change and, where necessary be proactive rather than letting events dictate to us."

Wigan's Greg Florimo has been cleared of a suspected broken hand and is expected to be able to play against Bradford on Friday.

Huddersfield, now bottom of Super League, are hoping to confirm the signing of the New Zealand Test stand-off, Gene Ngamu, for next season.

n John O'Neill, the former Australian international prop, has died aged 56 after a long struggle with cancer. O'Neill only played two Tests but he will be remembered for his performance in the 1970 World Cup final against Great Britain at Headingley, which Australia won 12-7. He played all but five minutes with a gash in his ankle so deep that it was almost to the bone.