Smith and Harris are drafted in

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The Independent Online
Warrington's Welsh international Iestyn Harris and Castleford's Chris Smith have answered the call from the Great Britain Nines coach, Andy Gregory.

Gregory named a 14-strong party for the World Super League Nines competition last Friday, only for two key members of the squad to withdraw yesterday through injury.

The Warrington forward Paul Sculthorpe and the Castleford half-back Tony Smith both face operations in the near future in a quest to be fit for the start of the domestic season.

Sculthorpe, one of a crop of outstanding young players in the game, has been troubled by a wrist injury while Smith has a groin problem.

Gregory, the Salford coach, said: "It's a blow to lose these two only days after the squad was announced, but we have two quality replacements in Iestyn and Chris. The squad remains strong with bags of experience and I am confident we will do well."

The Super League World Nines will be staged in Townsville, Australia, from 31 January to 2 February.

First and Second Division clubs will give their season- ticket holders "rover" passes to attend two First or Second Division games not involving their own club free of charge. Each club will have two blank weekends during the season which starts on 2 March, and League spokesman Bob Scott said: "It gives fans the opportunity to support the game on a wider basis."