Archive: All Wigan Pack To Lead The Lions (1992)

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By STEVE MASCORD

GREAT BRITAIN last night named a forward pack made up entirely of players from the all-conquering Wigan club for tonight’s do-or-die second rugby league Test against Australia at Princes Park.

Coach Malcolm Reilly dumped veteran Leeds prop Lee Crooks, promoting second-rower Billy McGinty to make his Test debut and returning Andy Platt to the front row.

The pack selection is believed to be a first for Lions games against Australia and underscores Wigan’s position as the rugby league world’s dominant club.

“The fact that so may forwards come from Wigan did not enter my thinking,” coach Malcolm Reilly said last night.

“As far as I am concerned, they are the players in form.”

Although the Australians wrapped up their preparation with their most cohesive training session of the series, the Lions showed the scars of an injury-ravaged tour, in which six players have been released because of injury.

Goalkicking winger Paul Eastwood, who bagged 16 points against NSW Country nine days ago, get his chance on the wing, with Paul Newlove switching to the centres for Paul Laughlin, who flew home this week with an arm injury.

Shaun Edwards beat off the challenge of Deryck Fox for the No 7 jumper of Andy Gregory, who has gone home with a groin injury.

Graham Steadman holds on to the fullback’s job despite a hardly challenge from Joe Lydon in the Lions’ 22-0 win over Newcastle on Tuesday night, and three other strong performers from that game – hooker Lee Jackson, winger Alan Hunte and five-eight Kevin Ellis – also failed to get a look- in.

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Wigan rake Martin Dermott, cleared of a broken thumb after last Friday’s shock 22-16 loss to Parramatta, was preferred as No 9.

Australia had what fullback Andrew Ettingshausen called “our best training session” at Princes Park yesterday, although five-eight Peter Jackson restricted his training to the punching bags.

Jackson missed Australia’s final session before the 22-6 first Test win because of knee soreness and again opted not to risk aggravating the injury.

“We had a good solid run yesterday and the knee always puffs up the day after training,” Jackson said as he received treatment from ARL physiotherapist Liz Street.

“The swelling won’t completely go down, but it’s a little bit better than before the first Test actually, which is a good sign.”

Coach Bob Fulton said: “There’s no problem with Jacko, but we’ve just run Kevin Walters in his place at training and rested him as a precaution.”

Britain is expected to spin the ball at every opportunity to flying flanker Martin Offiah, who made two breaks down the wing of Australian winger Rod Wishart in the first Test, only to be dusted off by Ettingshausen.

More than 20,000 tickets to the ground, home of the Carlton AFL club, have already been sold and, with 7000 British supporters in town, a full house is anticipated.

Reilly said yesterday: “This is an important match in more ways than one for Great Britain, and I have selected a team that I think can do the job.”

Meanwhile, Great Britain rugby league captain Ellery Hanley will begin his television commentary career with next Tuesday’s tour match against Gold Coast at Seagulls Stadium, the Nine Network announced yesterday.

Hanley was ruled out for the rest of the tour on Wednesday after playing just nine minutes in 10 games before suffering a recurrence of a hamstring injury.

Last week Nine caused a storm by signing him, though the Harry M Miller management company, without the knowledge of the Lions, who said the deal constituted to a breach of contract.

But a Nine spokesman said yesterday the way was now open for Hanley to take up the deal.

“His first match as a commentator will be on Tuesday night when Britain plays Gold Coast,” the spokesman said.

“He will also be recording his first full interview in 3 1/2 years.”

The British side arrived for the second Test on Wednesday without Hanley, who has stayed in Sydney for treatment.

Nine head of sports Ian Frykberg said yesterday: “We are delighted to have such a high-profile rugby league personality in the program.

“The contract is for six weeks, during which time Hanley will appear as a regular studio guest on the Sunday morning edition of Wide World of Sports in addition to commentary duties on Nine’s rugby league telecasts.

“Ellery will make his debut on Sunday morning (on the Wide World of Sports program) at 11am and will break his silence on a media ban that has been in place for 3 1/2 years.”

“Hanley will reveal the reasons behind the ban and why he has chosen this occasion to explain his standpoint.”

Frykberg said Hanley would be part of Nine’s Sunday, Friday night and Saturday night football coverage.

Doug Laughton, coach of Hanley’s Leeds club, said yesterday: “I spoke to him this morning and he said he was still thinking about the TV deal, but there should be no problems with us … ”

From AAP via  ILLAWARRA MERCURY, June 1992

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