Rugby League: Video clears Wembley pair: No action on Test tackles

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The Independent Online
NO FURTHER action is to be taken over accusations that the New Zealand forward, Stephen Kearney, and the Great Britain captain, Garry Schofield, were guilty of high tackles at Wembley last week.

A three-man panel, the first to consider video evidence from a Test, viewed footage of both players' tackling but decided there was no case to answer.

Kearney was cited by the British League in the aftermath of a tackle that left Denis Betts with a fractured cheekbone. By way of a response, the tourists alleged that Schofield had tackled Jason Williams across the throat.

Kearney had not been named for the Kiwis' game at Leeds tomorrow, but Schofield is now free to play for Leeds.

Howie Tamati, the Kiwi coach, will be looking closely at the form of Jason Mackie, a loose forward from the league backwater of Northland.

Mackie was the match-winner at St Helens on Tuesday and Tamati said: 'He plays the position the way I like to see it played. Another performance like that and he will be in the Test side.'

Tamati took the margin and the manner of the first Test defeat both hard and personally and needs the right sort of signals from tomorrow's match to help him get his selection right for the second Test at Wigan next Saturday.

The Leeds coach, Doug Laughton, is under a different sort of pressure, the midweek defeat at Featherstone being just the sort of result that stirs disaffection and sets the rumour mill turning.

Laughton is well aware of the names that are being bandied about as possible successors. Two Australians already in this country, Peter Tunks and Steve Martin, and Brian Smith, once with Hull, head the list. 'But I came here to do a job and intend to carry on doing it to the best of my ability,' Laughton said. 'Packing it in isn't an option that's open to me.'

His side lacks the former All Black, Craig Innes, with a foot injury, as well as Ellery Hanley. Andy Gregory will return to play at least part of the game, however, and two promising teenagers, the 16-year-old centre, Francis Cummings, and the 18-year-old prop, Jim Latham, will figure too.

There is no doubt about the main First Division match of the day. Wigan go to Halifax with a squad that splits neatly into doubtful, very doubtful and definitely missing.

Dean Bell, who could be out for six weeks with a groin injury, Betts and Martin Dermott head the certain absentees. Joe Lydon, Shaun Edwards, Barrie-Jon Mather, Andrew Farrell and Phil Clarke are among the most doubtful. Paul Stevens and Simon Haughton, both of whom impressed in the Great Britain Academy win over the Junior Kiwis on Thursday, stand by for their first-team debuts.

Halifax, by contrast, have a full squad to choose from for the first time this season, including the former Wigan full-back, Steve Hampson. Small wonder that their influential stand-off, Michael Hagan, says that 'it might not be a bad time to play Wigan.'