Rugby League: Surgery adds to Lowe's tour woes

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The Independent Online
PHIL LOWE, the Great Britain manager, will miss the last match of the team's ill-fated Antipodean expedition after being rushed to hospital to have his appendix removed.

The former Hull KR and Great Britain forward was operated on last night - the latest in a series of misadventures for the squad in the southern hemisphere. The tour doctor, Dr Anwar Zaman, said: "He will have to stay in hospital, so he certainly won't be there to see the team play on Friday night."

That might be a good thing for a man in precarious health, because all this trip needs to make it the most embarrassing ever is a defeat at the hands of an under-strength New Zealand Maori side at Ericsson Stadium.

The Maori coach, Cameron Bell, has been denied some of his first-choice players because of the delay in confirming the fixture, but he is treating it as a trial run for fringe candidates for next year's World Cup.

Among those who will be familiar to the British players are the former Widnes centre, Boycie Nelson, the ex-Warrington hooker, Tukere Barlow, and the London Broncos' loose forward, Andrew Wynyard.

Two Super League first-teamers, Martin Moana of Halifax and Frank Watene of Wakefield Trinity, are included among the substitutes, but the most intriguing name is that of the former Oldham and London stand-off, Luke Goodwin, who qualifies for the Maoris through his mother's side of the family.

The Great Britain and St Helens hooker, Keiron Cunningham, has been cleared of a suspected stress fracture of the foot, but he is still unlikely to be used on Friday night. That will mean a call up for Bradford's James Lowes, just days after he was talking about flying home, so disillusioned was he by his lack of involvement.

The Bulls' hooker played and scored in the warm-up match against the Burleigh Bears, but was not in the 17 for the defeats by Australia and New Zealand; he will now at least get a run in a match with some meaning attached to it.

For the game that really matters, the unofficial world championship between Australia and New Zealand on Friday night, the Australians have made just one change from the side that saw off Great Britain so comprehensively at Lang Park two weeks ago.

Canterbury's Darren Smith comes into the centres in place of St George- Illawarra's relatively inexperienced Shaun Timmins, who drops to the bench in a straight swap.