Rugby League: No place for Sailor in Grand Final

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The Independent Online
GRAHAM MURRAY, the Leeds coach, has ruled out drafting Wendell Sailor into his side for the Super League Grand Final against Wigan at on Saturday. The Australian Test winger is due to arrive in England tomorrow, although he still has work permit problems over his proposed stint playing rugby union for Leeds.

In theory, Murray could bring one of the world's greatest players into his team for Old Trafford, but he said: "It would be a brave man who could leave out any of the lads who played against St Helens."

That is a particular vote of confidence for his wingers, Francis Cummins and Leroy Rivett, who scored five tries between them on Sunday. Murray said that, in the absence of any new injury problems, he was planning to stick with the same 17 for the climactic match of the season.

John Monie, who named his Wigan side for the Grand Final without even knowing who their opponents would be, declared himself highly impressed by Leeds' performance against Saints. "They started well and got better," he said. "It's the Grand Final that everyone wanted, between the best two teams in the country."

St Helens' hooker, Keiron Cunningham, injured against Leeds, is the new worry that the play-offs have thrown up for the Great Britain coach, Andy Goodway, with the first Test against New Zealand less than two weeks away. Cunningham will learn tomorrow whether he needs an operation on a knee cartilage, although he hopes he could put it off long enough to face the Kiwis.

Goodway admitted that Cunningham would be his first choice if fit. Among the possible alternativesLee Jackson has not played for nine weeks, since Newcastle were knocked out of the Australian play-offs. Another in-form hooker, Halifax's Paul Rowley, is going on holiday this week, after concluding that he does not figure in Goodway's plans.

New Zealand, beaten 2-1 in their series against Australia, have added five players to the 17 who played in the deciding match to complete their squad for England. They are the Canberra winger, Leslie Vainikolo, the Auckland back-row forward, Ali Lauitiiti. The Illawarra centre, Craig Simon, and the former Warrington centre, Nigel Vagana, as well as Wigan's Henry Paul. Daryl Halligan, their only remaining specialist goal-kicker, has got permission from his wife to make the tour.

The former Great Britain prop, Karl Harrison, is "devastated" by the way his career at Halifax has ended. The 34-year-old captain and ever- present during the club's surprisingly successful season, was only told he was not wanted for next year when he phoned to request some tax forms.

"What hurts the most is that I haven't been able to leave the club in the right way - in a dignified way," he said. "Now I've got to look at other options. I'll talk to anyone, because I know I can still do a good job."

Harrison is the second senior front-rower to come on to the market, following Sheffield Eagles' decision that they cannot afford to meet the expectations of Paul Broadbent.