Rugby League: Wales risk a gamble

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The Independent Online
The Welsh coach, Clive Griffiths, is likely to be forced into a series of risks for tomorrow's international against Australia in Cardiff.

The increasingly probable absence of Jonathan Davies and Allan Bateman through injury would mean playing the 18-year-old Warrington winger, Iestyn Haris, at stand-off for the first time in his short career and asking John Devereux to play centre after one reserve team outing this season.

Alongside those gambles, the choice of another relatively new recruit, Scott Gibbs, at centre, of a scrum-half, Jonathan Griffiths, at hooker, and possibly of Scott Quinnell as substitute after just two A team games at Wigan look like minor wagers.

'I'm forced to take risks,' Griffiths said. 'Of all international coaches, I have the least players to choose from. I don't know how some of the players I've chosen will cope with what I'm asking them to do.'

Australia's team looks suspiciously like a series of auditions for the second Test at Old Trafford a week today, with Wendell Sailor and Rod Wishart reading for the same wing role.

Fulton plans to give six of his forwards - Glenn Lazarus, David Furner, Paul Sironen, Paul Harragon, David Fairleigh and Steve Menzies - half a game each, with places in the Test pack, and certainly on the bench, up for grabs.

Bradley Clyde is given the maximum time to recover from his Shaun Edwards-induced concussion and Laurie Daley continues to have treatment on his thigh injury. It is still a powerful-looking Australian team, however, and likely to be too strong for a Welsh side who have performed with great credit since being re-formed, almost exactly three years ago, but have their limitations.

The Great Britain coach, Ellery Hanley, is fit to return to playing action for Leeds against Wakefield, but Garry Schofield, recalled to the Test squad this week, does not yet know which position he will be playing for his club.

Widnes are selling their ground, Naughton Park, to the local council, who plan to redevelop it as an all-seater stadium.

WALES (probable): Ford (Salford); Sullivan (St Helens), Gibbs (St Helens), Devereux (Widnes), Hadley (Widnes); Harris (Warrington), Ellis (Warrington); Young (Salford), Griffiths (St Helens), Marlow (Wakefield), Phillips (Warrington), Moriarty (Halifax), Perrett (Halifax). Substitutes: Cordle (Bradford), Webster (Salford), Powell (Bradford), Quinnell (Wigan) or Lee (Warrington) AUSTRALIA: Mullins (Canberra); Sailor (Brisbane), Meninga (Canberra), Renouf (Brisbane), Wishart (Illawarra); K Walters (Brisbane), Langer (Brisbane); Roberts (Manly), S Walters (Canberra), Lazarus (Brisbane), Furner (Canberra), Sironen (Balmain), Fittler (Penrith). Substitutes: Harragon (Newcastle), Fairleigh (Norths), Florimo (Norths), Menzies (Manly).

Referee: C Morris (Huddersfield).

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