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BBC sports news correspondent Nigel Adderley
"There will be relief as well as jubilation within rugby league"
 real 14k

Rugby Football League's John Huxley
"It's a major relief - it was vital for many reasons"
 real 14k

ARL chief executive Geoff Carr
"A large majority of the players have agreed to participate"
 real 14k

ARL chairman Colin Love
"The board adopted a wait and see policy"
 real 14k

Great Britain head coach David Waite
"Disappointment now turns to anticipation and excitement"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 07:31 GMT 08:31 UK
Ashes tour back on
Andrew Johns in action for Australia against New Zealand
Andrew Johns is one player in support of the Ashes tour
World champions Australia will go ahead with a truncated tour to Britain next month, Australian Rugby League (ARL) officials announced on Tuesday.

The ARL cancelled the tour when several leading players voiced concerns over safety, following the military strikes on Afghanistan.

But security assurances from the British Government have convinced the players and ARL officials to reverse their original decision.

The tour, which has been shortened to 19 days, will include just three Test matches against GB.

  Revised Ashes itinerary
GB v Australia 2001
1st Test: 11 November
(Huddersfield's McAlpine Stadium)
2nd Test: 17 November
(Bolton's Reebok Stadium)
3rd Test: 24 November
(Wigan's JJB Stadium)

The Kangaroos will be led by captain Brad Fittler, one of several players who said last week that he would not be going.

The ARL will liaise further with its players before confirming the tour party but at least 20 of the original 24-man squad will be involved.

The series will start on Sunday, 11 November at Huddersfield's McAlpine Stadium.

Club matches against newly-crowned Super League champions Bradford Bulls, World Club champions St Helens and Wigan Warriors have been scrapped.

ARL chairman Love said: "The vast majority of players have expressed their desire that the tour proceed.

"One of the most pleasing aspects of the last few weeks has been the overwhelming desire of the public to see a return to a three-Test series against Great Britain.

"The responsibility of the Board remains the safety and welfare of the players, but we are now in a much stronger position to answer any concerns."

British relief

The news was greeted with relief at Rugby Football League (RFL) headquarters in Leeds.

The sport in Britain is still reeling from a financially disastrous World Cup and the loss of the money-spinning Kangaroo tour would have been calamitous.

RFL director Dave Callaghan said: "We are absolutely delighted that the Kangaroo tour is back on.

"This decision is of major significance for the sport of rugby league, both in this country and internationally.

"We're mindful of the difficulties that faced Australia and its players. It's not been as easy situation for them."

'Difficult period'

Six days of intense lobbying helped persuade Australia to overturn their original decision - as did an unprecedented storm of criticism from fans.

Greg McCallum, executive director of rugby for the Rugby Football League, said: "It's been a very difficult period for the ARL and RFL over the last six days.

I have been given an assurance by the ARL that no-one will be forced to come
RFL chief Greg McCallum
"Right from day one we have been saying it's perfectly safe to be over here.

"I've got to put it down to tremendous cooperation by the authorities in this country, who have been in constant contact with the ARL."

McCallum said he had not been entirely surprised by the initial decision from down under.

"Twelve thousand miles is a long way away. Each person is entitled to make their decision.

"I have been given an assurance by the ARL that no-one will be forced to come and that's the same assurance which has been given to the players.

"The people in this country will appreciate the decision they have made. It's not easy," he told Sky Sports.

St Helens hooker Keiron Cunningham, who is expected to be first choice for Great Britain, said the news was welcome.

"I am glad it's back on, the League have obviously put a lot of hard work into it."

"It's something everyone has been excited about for a long while and will give us a benchmark to where we stand in the international scene."

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