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The Sydney Morning Herald

CHANGES TO TEST TEAM UNLIKELY - HAMMERTON

Author: JOHN MACDONALD
Date: 15/06/1988
Words: 791
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Sport
Page: 52
Chairman of selectors Ernie Hammerton said last night there wouldn't be many changes, if any, to the Australian team for the second Test against Great Britain at Lang Park on June 28.

There have been calls for the Australian forward pack to be revamped despite Australia's 17-6 win in the first Test last Saturday.

Hammerton said talk of a lot of changes was "rubbish".

"England played pretty well and the referee made it stop-start," Hammerton said.

"It took our fellas a while to get going but they won 17-6 and scored three tries to one. You don't usually change a winning Test team. I was pretty happy with the new boys. They all did their job."

The selectors blooded five new players in Andrew Ettingshausen, Peter Jackson, Tony Currie, Sam Backo and Phil Daley. Hammerton said they could be expected to improve and it was the selectors' traditional policy to blood youth with experience.

He said form in the final State of Origin game between NSW and Queensland at the Sydney Football Stadium next Tuesday night would still have a bearing on the Test team, however.

Hammerton said he had not discussed the Test team with the other selectors, and they could have differing views, depending on what happened next Tuesday night.

"There were borderline cases (for the first Test)," he said. "They will get their chance on Tuesday night."

The casting vote of Australian Rugby League chairman Ken Arthurson was needed to separate deadlocks between hookers Greg Conescu and Benny Elias and props Phil Daley and Martin Bella for the first Test.

Hammerton said: "I've been a Test selector for 18 years and I haven't seen it happen (wholesale changes to a winning Test team)."

Hammerton virtually ruled out the chance of players not engaged in the final Origin match making the team.

"Commonsense would say they face an uphill battle," he said.

This makes the task of mooted Test aspirants such as Canterbury prop Peter Tunks virtually impossible.

Queeensland selection panel member Dud Beattie said last night it was important for the Maroons to win the final Origin match to justify the high proportion of Queenslanders in the Test team.

Arthurson said last night he would be surprised if there would be any changes to a winning team.

The only changes he could envisage would be if players like Gene Miles and Wayne Pearce had really big games in the Origin match.

Arthurson said he was pleased with French referee Francis Desplas's display in the first Test and there was no question of his being spoken to by the ARL before the second Test. "I really think he refereed OK," Arthurson said. "The big thing is that he's straight down the middle."

Arthurson said he had only two complaints with Desplas - his handling of the scrums and his tendency to forget the 5m rule when the attacking team was inside the opposing quarter.

"I saw him referee the Australians in Paris (during the 1986 Kangaroo tour)and he went very well.

"His one difficulty in refereeing is that he can't speak the language."

Arthurson said the referees' association had spoken to Desplas before and after the Test through an interpreter.

He said Desplas may have been nervous like the players in the early part of Saturday's Test but started to settle down after halftime.

Meanwhile, halfback Peter Sterling has been given until Sunday to prove his fitness for the Origin match.

Sterling, Australia's first Test hero, injured his shoulder in the first half when attempting to tackle Great Britain captain Ellery Hanley.

The halfback later withdrew from the match against Cronulla and will have to take the field for this Sunday's game against Eastern Suburbs to prove his availability.

Sterling said yesterday his shoulder was responding well to treatment and he expected to be fit.

South Sydney have lost prop Les Davidson for tomorrow night's match with the Brisbane Broncos at the Sydney Football Stadium because of a knee injury. Davidson, who also missed last Sunday's 18-all draw with North Sydney, will again be replaced by 21-year-old prop David Hosking.

 
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