Tollett switch expands British options

Rugby League
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The Independent Online
Great Britain have selected their resident Australian, Tulsen Tollett, at scrum-half for their first match in Fiji tomorrow, but the signs are less propitious for three players from the Test side relegated to midweek duties.

Joey Hayes, Terry O'Connor and Chris Joynt, who started the hard-earned victory over Papua New Guinea in Lae on Saturday, play against a Fiji Presidents' XIII at Lautoka.

That means the three are likely to be out of the team to play Fiji this Saturday, with Daryl Powell, Brian McDermott and Paul Sculthorpe lined up to replace them. "It is what I have said all along - that the Test team will be picked on form," said Phil Larder, the coach who has also shown that he is unafraid of asking players to occupy relatively unfamiliar roles.

Tollett, born at Hastings, but brought up in the outer suburbs of Sydney, is not a complete stranger to the scrum-half position, having played much of his early rugby there for Penrith.

In more recent years, he has been primarily a stand-off, most recently for the London Broncos. He becomes the first London Bronco and the first Australian-produced player to start a match for Great Britain. His inclusion gives Larder, who was impressed by Tollett's contribution as a substitute at Mt Hagen during the first match of the tour, the opportunity to rest both his specialist scrum-halves before Saturday's Test at Nadi. He wants to start with his match-winner in Papua New Guinea, Bobbie Goulding, and have Tony Smith available to make an impact from the bench. And switching Tollett allows him to do just that.

Bernard Dwyer gets his first action of the tour as a substitute after recovering from blisters and is a substitute under the captaincy of his Bradford team- mate, James Lowes.

Three were not considered because of injury - Alan Hunte, who has been having acupuncture on a trapped nerve, Rowland Phillips, who has had surgery on a facial cyst, and John Roper. Roper's knee injury is causing most concern and he was given a stringent examination to gauge his likely recovery time yesterday.

GREAT BRITAIN: Prescott (St Helens); Hayes (St Helens), Mather (Western Reds), Senior (Sheffield), Critchley (Keighley); Hammond (St Helens), Tollett (London); O'Connor (Wigan), Lowes (Bradford, capt), Harmon (Leeds), Bradbury (Oldham), Cassidy (Wigan), Joynt (St Helens). Substitutes: Sullivan (St Helens), Dwyer (Bradford), Molloy (Featherstone), Morley (Leeds).