Rugby League: Newlove quits Tests: Centre refuses to play for Britain again

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The Independent Online
PAUL NEWLOVE, one of the outstanding young talents in the country, has said that he will not play for Great Britain again, as a protest over his treatment since withdrawing from the World Sevens in Sydney.

The Bradford centre, 22, issued a statement last night that he had retired from international rugby. Newlove, who has 13 caps, blamed 'the intolerant and intransigent attitude of the authorities in refusing me the right to miss a seven-a-side tournament' for his decision.

He pulled out of Great Britain's squad in order to move house with his family this week and also because of a long-standing fear of flying. That led to being banned from playing for his club this weekend and he also faces an inquiry into whether he is guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.

'I bitterly regret the pressure and the personal threats from the Rugby League,' he said. 'I'm sorry that I will not again have the opportunity to represent my country.'

Malcolm Reilly, Britain's coach, reacted angrily: 'Anyone who makes a statement of that sort doesn't deserve to play for his country,' he said. 'He is not highly motivated or ambitious. If that is the type of player we are supposed to rely upon, we are better off without them. I will not be trying to get him to change his mind.'

Despite that tough talk, the loss of such a talented player is a major blow. Newlove has been in brilliant form in the League and played just as well for Great Britain in last autumn's series against New Zealand.

He would have been one of the first players chosen to face Australia this year, but now appears to have pulled down the curtain on what should have been a glittering Test career.

Deprived of the services of Shaun Edwards and Martin Offiah, also banned this weekend after pulling out of the Sevens, the Wigan coach, John Dorahy, has recalled Martin Dermott, Neil Cowie and Andrew Farrell against Widnes tonight, along with Paul Atcheson, the former Widnes utility player, who has been out injured for most of the season.

With Phil Clarke in Sydney as Edwards's replacement, Dorahy loses three players because of the Sevens. 'I still feel Wigan have had a rough deal, the maximum was only supposed to be two,' he said.

Lindsay's fears, page 34