British ban raises ire of Aussies
AUSTRALIA may have to play warm-up matches against Sydney clubs before rugby league's World Cup in October after being barred from playing against British teams this week.
Many Australian players, not involved in the semi-finals, finish playing for the season this week, leaving them well short of match practice for the October World Cup.
But the British league, as part of its ongoing campaign against Australia over its stance against Super League, has refused to let the Aussies meet British opposition in warm-up games.
The move will force Aussie coach Bob Fulton to schedule trial games against Sydney sides loyal to the ARL next month to keep his players in shape.
A row is already developing over the rules of eligibility for the Cup. The British league this week made public Australia's preliminary 40-man squad, declaring that the final 25 players must come from within that squad.
But the Australians insist they can add players who perform in the finals to their squad and will make changes when they see fit, drawing an angry response from British director Maurice Lindsay.
'The Australians are trying to change the rules,' Lindsay said. 'Why do they think we asked for the names? We're trying to promote the World Cup.
'Every other country is agreeing to the rules except Australia.' ARL boss Ken Arthurson, who has become a bitter opponent of Lindsay since the British game turned to Super League, fired back.
'I hope Lindsay is putting as much time and effort into promoting the World Cup as he is into scrutinising every move Australia makes,' Arthurson said.
'When we need England's help to pick our team, then we will ask them.
'Until then they can mind their own business.
'Naturally our selectors want to wait until after the grand final at the end of September before finalising our side.' Meanwhile, a Sydney amateur player has been suspended for 30 years for assaulting a referee.
The player, from the Blacktown Workers' club, was banned for 15 years for head-butting the referee and a further 15 years for punching him.
In another incident, police were called to a Brisbane nightclub to break up a fight between three Brisbane Bronco stars. Second-rower Peter Ryan punched both Kevin Walters and Chris Johns before order was restored. No charges were laid.