Rugby League: Wigan's challenge hit by injuries

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The Independent Online
WIGAN and Brisbane face contrasting fortunes after injuries picked up by their players in the World Cup final on Saturday.

Two of Great Britain's players at Wembley, Joe Lydon and Phil Clarke, are likely to pull out of tomorrow's Wigan side for the World Club Challenge.

Lydon is still feeling pain from the ankle injury that forced him out of the match against Australia shortly after half-time. Andre Stoop, the Namibian who is part of Wigan's embarrassment of riches at full-back and who has played there impressively when he has been given the chance this season, stands by to deputise.

Clarke completed the 80 minutes at Wembley but has a 'dead' leg which, according to the Wigan coach, John Monie, makes him extremely doubtful. If he is ruled out, Billy McGinty will move back to loose forward, with Neil Cowie coming into the pack.

The Brisbane Broncos' major injury doubt cleared up yesterday when their scrum-half and captain, Allan Langer, confirmed that he will have recovered from a chest injury in time to play at Central Park.

Brisbane have their entire Grand Final squad in Britain with them, although Alan Cann and Gavin Allen are obvious non-starters at Wigan because of broken bones, which are a legacy of their memorable win.

The experienced Mark Hohn and Andrew Gee, a Test forward returning after a foot injury, are ready-made replacements for Cann and Allen in the Brisbane pack. The overall strength of the club is emphasised by the presence of another Test player, Tony Currie, among the substitutes.

Neither Brisbane nor Wigan were able to train on a sodden Central Park yesterday, taking turns on a nearby training pitch instead. It was not the first minor setback for the Broncos, who were unable to reclaim their eight members of the World Cup squad until Monday.

'We would have liked to get them earlier but the Australian Rugby League ruled otherwise, so there was nothing we could do about it,' the club's chief executive, the former Australian Test wing, John Ribot, said.

Wigan (probable): Stoop; Robinson, Bell, Farrar, Offiah; Botica, Edwards; Skerrett, Dermott, Platt, Betts, Cowie, McGinty. Substitutes: Lucas, Mather, Crompton, Panapa.

Brisbane: O'Neill; Hancock, Renouf, Johns, Carne; Kevin Walters, Langer; Lazarus, Kerrod Walters, Gee, Gillmeister, Hohn, Matterson. Substitutes: Plath, Currie, Plowman, Ryan.