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Thursday, 12 October, 2000, 22:06 GMT 23:06 UK
Wales lose vice-captain Cowie
Neil Cowie
Neil Cowie's injury marks a blow for Wales'World Cup squad
Wales have been dealt a major blow ahead of the Lincoln World Cup as experienced Wigan prop Neil Cowie has pulled out of Clive Griffiths' squad through injury.

The 33-year-old Cowie has been ruled with a groin problem, although he is expected to play for his club in Saturday's Super League Grand Final against St Helens.

Cowie, the second withdrawal from Griffiths' original 24-strong squad, is replaced by Hull KR prop David Luckwell.

"It's a massive blow," admitted Griffiths. "He was our vice-captain and we were going to base a lot of our forward play around him.

There is nothing I can do about it. We've just got to get on with it and do the best we can
  Wales rugby league coach Clive Griffiths

"To lose him at this stage is a major setback, especially after losing Damian Gibson, Daio Powell, Matthew Johns and Aaron Raper.

"But there is nothing I can do about it. We've just got to get on with it and do the best we can."


Rugby union convert Hefin O'Hare, 19, who recently joined Huddersfield on a two-year deal, has already joined up with the squad as a replacement for injured Halifax centre Gibson and will fly out with the bulk of the party for warm-weather training in South Africa on Sunday.

"It will be good to get away to South Africa this weekend and start our preparations," added Griffiths.

"We will be training and living together day-in, day-out, and that will be good for developing spirit and helping us to become a team."

The other Wigan and St Helens players involved in the Grand Final will fly out to Johannesburg 24 hours later and, according to Griffiths, will be used "sparingly if at all" in Wales' match against South Africa in Pretoria next Thursday.

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