Scotland Wales Northern Ireland
BBC Homepage feedback | low graphics version
BBC Sport Online
You are in: Rugby League  
Front Page 
Rugby Union 
Rugby League 
World Cup 2000 
Other Sports 
Sports Talk 
In Depth 
Photo Galleries 
TV & Radio 
BBC Pundits 
Question of Sport 
Funny Old Game 

Around The Uk

BBC News

BBC Weather

Monday, 30 July, 2001, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Injury crisis weakens Wales
Iestyn Harris in action for Wales last year
Harris will undergo surgery on his wrist
Wales v England
Racecourse Ground, Wrexham
Tuesday, 31 July (kick-off 2000 BST)

Wales have a selection headache ahead of Tuesday's international against England as their list of injured players continues to grow.

With captain Iestyn Harris and winger Anthony Sullivan among the causalities, coach Neil Kelly has been forced to hunt for Welsh-qualified replacements.

We're talking to players eligible to play for Wales to see who's available
  Neil Kelly
Wales coach

Leeds star Harris is set to have exploratory surgery on a wrist he injured after crashing into an advertising hoarding at Bradford eight days ago.

And Sullivan has been forced to withdraw because of a groin strain.

Other withdrawals include Kris Tassell (ankle), Anthony Farrell (shoulder), Paul Highton (concussion) and Garreth Carvell (head).

All of these players were in the squad that reached the semi-finals of last year's World Cup, but Kelly says he is remaining calm.

"It's a very tough situation with so many injuries but we're not going to panic," said Kelly.

"We're talking to players eligible to play for Wales to see who's available. We are anxious that the team should be competitive."
Anthony Sullivan in action for St Helens
Veteran winger Sullivan will also miss out on Tuesday

Harris' absence will be a major blow to Wales' chances of upsetting England, but at least the Rhinos ace will be on hand when the team gather in Chester on Monday night.

"I could have had the operation on Monday, but I've opted to have it on Wednesday so that I can stay with the squad," said Harris.

"I've no chance of playing but it's important to be with the boys when they play England."

His withdrawal could also mean that Harris has played his final international match as a rugby league player.

The Welshman is widely expected to switch codes with Cardiff at the end of the season, which would rule him out of Great Britain's Ashes series with Australia.

Rugby Football League spokesman John Huxley said: "In realistic terms, Iestyn is on his way to union in Wales.

"We are not fools, we have seen the signs and we have heard what he has to say. It's just a matter of time."

It was a great atmosphere when I last played at Wrexham and I was looking forward to it again
  Anthony Sullivan

Winger Sullivan suffered his injury in Saints' victory over Salford on Sunday and expects to be out for 10 days.

"It is hugely disappointing," said the St Helens speedster. "It was a great atmosphere when I last played at Wrexham and I was looking forward to it again.

"Unfortunately when they play the match two days after most people have played, you are always going to suffer these consequences

"Until they make it a week's preparation before a game then you are going to get this amount of withdrawals."

England have had their own injury worries, with coach David Waite being forced to make three changes to his initial 18-man squad.

Scrum-half Tony Smith (Hull) and forward Stuart Fielden (Bradford) both reported with ankle injuries on Monday while Wigan centre Paul Johnson pulled out with a leg injury.

Waite has called up uncapped players Lee Radford and Daryl Cardiss, plus Castleford prop Nathan Sykes to fill in.

Bradford Bulls back rower Radford and Halifax full-back Cardiss both impressed Waite in last month's Origin Game.

Search BBC Sport Online
Advanced search options
See also:

28 Jul 01 |  Rugby League
Harris in fitness race
20 Jun 01 |  Wales
Harris named in Wales squad
25 Jun 01 |  Rugby League
King set to reign for England
18 Nov 00 |  World Cup 2000
Kiwis sweep England aside
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to top Rugby League stories are at the foot of the page.

Links to other Rugby League stories

^^ Back to top