Rugby League: Reilly reshuffles around Edwards: Britain choose new half-back pairing for World Cup final at Wembley on Saturday

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The Independent Online
GREAT BRITAIN have reduced their 19-man squad to the line-up that logic dictates for the World Cup final against Australia on Saturday. The captain, Garry Schofield, has moved without complaint to the centres to make room for a new half-back pairing of Deryck Fox and Shaun Edwards, two performers of undoubted pedigree who have never played together.

'We are going to have to switch things around a bit,' the Great Britain coach, Malcolm Reilly, said. He has grown used to having Schofield directing play from stand-off, the position in which he has played his last 17 Tests.

'Shaun is a different sort of player and we will be working to his qualities - his support play and his distribution.' he said.

Fox, starting his first Test since he appeared in the first two matches of the series against Australia in 1986, will not only have the responsibility for goal- kicking but also for much of the kicking in general play as well.

Equally important will be his ability to bring the best out of his forwards - the aspect of his play upon which he built his reputation at Featherstone Rovers and which has been even more noticeable since his move this season to Bradford.

Alan Hunte comes in on the right wing for his second cap, and the one real worry in the backs concerns Graham Steadman. His ankle injury prevented him from training at Castleford with the rest of the squad yesterday, but Reilly is cautiously optimistic that he will be able to run today.

If not, the next option will be to bring in one of the four substitutes, Joe Lydon, who was so doubtful of being involved in the match that he had booked a place on a supporters' trip.

That would create a gap on the bench to be filled by Alan Tait of Leeds, who is one of two travelling reserves.

The pack is as expected, with Ellery Hanley returning at loose forward and Phil Clarke moving into the second row to partner Denis Betts. Reilly sees no difficulty in Clarke adapting to the change. 'Both he and Betts will be running wide of Hanley in any event. The only difference is in where he packs down,' he said.

The recalled Kevin Ward and the ever-reliable Andy Platt form as convincing a front-row pairing as could be wished. Kelvin Skerrett, who had a slight illness yesterday that is expected to clear before the weekend, and Richie Eyres, have edged Bernard Dwyer out of a place as forwards substitute.

Great Britain travelled down to their base outside London today, but, unlike Australia, will not be having a training run at Wembley.

Australia will not only take advantage of that opportunity today, but will also take the unusual step of running through a skills drill 15 minutes before the kick-off on Saturday.

Their coach, Bob Fulton, believes that going out in front of a partisan crowd of more than 77,000 before the kick-off will innoculate his players against any attack of nerves when they come out of the tunnel in earnest.

A Wembley spokesman said yesterday that there are still 'a few thousand' tickets available for the final. The capacity has been set at 78,000 and there will be no tickets on sale on the day.

GREAT BRITAIN: Steadman (Castleford); Hunte (St Helens), Connolly (St Helens), Schofield (Leeds, capt), Offiah (Wigan); Edwards (Wigan), Fox (Bradford Northern); Ward (St Helens), Dermott (Wigan), Platt (Wigan), Betts (Wigan), Clarke (Wigan), Hanley (Leeds). Replacements: Devereux (Widnes), Skerrett (Wigan), Lydon (Wigan), Eyres (Widnes).