Rugby League: Mann in the shop window: Hooker showcase

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The Independent Online
DUANE MANN begins his mission to earn another contract in England by hooking for a strong New Zealand side against Wales at Swansea on Sunday.

Mann left Warrington under a cloud after three and a half years at the end of last season and is contracted to play for the new Auckland Warriors club in 1995, but he wants to play in England during the intervening season.

'Warrington gave me no choice but to leave with the terms they offered me,' Mann said. 'The tour gives me a chance to show that I could still do a job for a team over here.'

Howie Tamati, the Kiwis' coach, has named his most experienced side for the opening match of the tour. Led by the tour captain, Gary Freeman, they include only four uncapped players - the centres Iva Ropati and Whetu Taewa, the stand-off Gene Ngamu and the loose forward, Jason Mackie.

Great Britain have suffered another setback with a freak injury to their regular hooker, Martin Dermott. The Wigan player is thought to have damaged a rib during a pile-up of players staged for children's television. He is already out of Wigan's game at Salford on Sunday and must be considered a doubt for the first Test at Wembley on 16 October.

Richard Webster, the 13-cap Welsh rugby union forward, will begin his league career in Salford's reserve side next Monday. Webster, who left Swansea to sign a five-year deal yesterday, will play in the Lancashire Challenge Shield tie against St Helens.

'It's a learning process and I wouldn't throw him into the first team straight away,' Garry Jack, the Salford player- coach, said.

The former All Black, John Gallagher, has been appointed rugby league's second development officer in London. Gallagher now plays for London Crusaders after being signed from Leeds during the summer.

NEW ZEALAND (v Wales, Swansea, Sunday): M Edwards (Balmain); Halligan (North Sydney), Ropati (Auckland), Taewa (Canterbury), Hoppe (Canberra); Ngamu (Manly), Freeman (Penrith, capt); J Lomax (Canberra), Mann (Auckland), Stuart (Canterbury), Kearney (Western Suburbs), Pongia (Canberra), Mackie (Canterbury).

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