Rugby League: Saints all keyed up for the Kiwis

St Helens and their captain, Bobbie Goulding, will be stimulated by revenge when they kick-off the World Club Championship against Auckland Warriors tomorrow night.

"Six St Helens players have come off a tour to New Zealand, where we got our bottoms kicked 3-0," said Goulding at the launch of the tournament yesterday. "We are still smarting from what a lot of these Auckland players did to us.''

The Auckland coach, Frank Endacott, will have two of those players, Matthew Ridge and Steve Kearney, back after being rested at the weekend.

Perth Reds, who start their campaign at Castleford on Sunday, have sprung a surprise by leaving their resident Englishman, Barrie-Jon Mather, back in Western Australia.

Mather, who played for Great Britain on last year's Kiwi tour, played for Reds' reserves at the weekend and failed to win a place in the squad to travel to Europe.

"I would have liked to have him here, because he would have been very good from a promotional point of view," the Reds' coach, Dean Lance, said.

"But unfortunately his form hasn't been up to scratch since he had a groin operation. It comes down to whether you want a good profile or to win football matches.''

Perth will play a Castelford side without the veteran, Graham Steadman, but with Jason Lidden returning after injury.

Also on Sunday, Cronulla, one of the favourites, go to troubled Warrington, with their most experienced player, Andrew Ettingshausen, warning them not to take British opposition too lightly.

"The competitiveness of British sides has changed remarkably since I was at Leeds in 1985," he said. "I don't think there's going to be a lot in any of the games. I think they are all going to be pretty close.''

While other British clubs are preparing for matches against international opposition, most of Sheffield's Super League squad will face a less exotic challenge - from Workington Town reserves.

Their coach, John Kear, is chastising eight members of the first team beaten 32-12 at London last Friday by including them in the Alliance team to play in Cumbria tomorrow night. Sheffield do not start their World Club Championship programme until next week.

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