Rugby League: Lindsay backing clubs to resist NZ tour call-ups: Dispute over British-based Kiwis

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A MAJOR international row is brewing between Great Britain and New Zealand over the release of four British-based players for a tour of Papua New Guinea next month.

Frank Endacott, the new Kiwi coach, has selected four players from British clubs - Kevin Iro of Leeds, Brendon Tuuta of Featherstone, Aaron Whittaker of Wakefield and Tawera Nikau of Castleford - for the five-match tour.

However, the clubs now have the backing of Britain's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay, to resist the call-up.

Lindsay admits that international by-laws could give New Zealand a technical right to claim the players, but said: 'These selections are entirely against the spirit of the international transfer system.

'I strongly object when clubs are expected to lose players for a month at such an important time in our programme.'

Lindsay has contacted the director general of the game's international board, Ken Arthurson, to call for the matter to be discussed.

The Wigan and Great Britain loose forward, Phil Clarke, has launched a new scaled-down version of the game for under-nines and under-11s.

The Puma Little League uses a smaller pitch with simplified rules and is league's answer to union's mini-rugby.

'This is an exciting development for the future of the game,' Clarke said. 'In a sport as physical as rugby league it can be difficult for children to learn the skills safely and this is the answer to that problem.' A demonstration is planned as a curtain-raiser to the first Test against Australia at Wembley on 22 October.