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The Sydney Morning Herald

McCracken's future at stake after tackle

Date: 21/06/2000
Words: 737
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Sport
Page: 48
Wests Tigers now expect to be without Jarrod McCracken for the rest of the season after the skipper injured his neck in a spear tackle on May 12.

Club chief executive Martin Bullock said last night that while specialists did not believe McCracken had suffered nerve damage as a result of the tackle by Melbourne's Stephen Kearney and Marcus Bai, there was no immediate prospect of him returning to football.

The injury may also cost the former New Zealand captain a World Cup berth.

``Jarrod might be enthusiastic and optimistic about his chances but the truth is we don't hold out that much hope of having him back," Bullock said last night.

``Because of the soft tissue damage, he has to be very careful."

The news is a major blow to the joint venture team, bundled out of the top eight at the weekend by a heavy loss to Brisbane and facing a difficult run to the finals.

Penrith coach Royce Simmons this week compared a tackle on fullback Rhys Wesser last Saturday by North Queensland's Robert Relf and Kyle Warren to the hit on McCracken.

Cowboys chief executive Rabieh Krayem last night defended second-rower Warren, who was not charged over the tackle, saying: ``The fact is that Kyle's tackle was a good one, and nothing more."

Relf's agent, Mark Rowan, has meanwhile said he would not rule out legal action if the prop suffered complications from concussion suffered when he was punched by Penrith's Craig Greenhill later in the match.

``I am very concerned for his safety," Rowan said. ``He asked his wife where he was when he got home from the match on Saturday night."

In other news, Australian coach Chris Anderson last night gave an undertaking that players quitting the game or heading to Britain next year would not have their futures held against them by World Cup selectors.

But Australia is set to ban overseas-based players, aside from expatriates with the Auckland Warriors, from Test selection.

Jason Smith, Matthew Johns, David Furner and Tonie Carroll are among the players set to join English clubs while Brad Thorn is tipped to play rugby union in New Zealand.

``It it was a 50-50 call, you might lean towards the bloke who is going to be around next year," said Anderson. ``But you have to pick players based on what they've done this year."

Asked if players would be considered if they were based in Britain, Anderson said bluntly: ``We won't be picking them and I think they know that."

Anderson rated his Melbourne club a ``60-40" chance of retaining halfback Brett Kimmorley.

And late last night NRL officials said they had not received any registration form for Paul Green to play with Brisbane or their feeder club Toowoomba this weekend.

The sacked North Queensland halfback joined the Broncos for the rest of the season yesterday. Krayem said he would have no hesitation granting him a release.

Penrith lock John Cross is close to re-signing, Melbourne have picked up Wests Tigers prop Brenton Pomery for the rest of this year and Newcastle's Timana Tahu re-signed for one season yesterday.

In team news, Northern Eagles halfback Jason Taylor was again demoted to first division, with Michael Buettner back for the North Queensland game.

Jim Dymock has been selected to play off the bench for Parramatta against Wests Tigers.

St George Illawarra may play St Helens in Orlando during January and Samoa have lost another key player ahead of the World Cup with St Helens' Fereti Tuilagi joining Apollo Perelini in defecting to rugby union.

Former St George centre Jack Lindwall, who played 133 games for the Saints between 1938 and 1949, died at the weekend. His funeral will be held at St Raphael's Catholic Church, South Hurstville, at 1.30pm tomorrow.

Wednesday wash-up

* Five-eighth Matthew Johns is back from injury for Newcastle (v St George Illawarra, Sunday).

* Centre Terry Hill returns for Wests Tigers (v Parramatta, Sunday). The Eels give Jamie Lyon and Jason Cayless their debuts.

* Penrith (v Canberra, Saturday) have called up Mark Geyer for the suspended Craig Greenhill. Raider Ken Nagas (Achilles tendon) is back after 15 weeks.

* Sharks (v Melbourne, Friday) have named injured winger Mat Rogers. The Storm have lost centre Tony Martin (pinched nerve) with Brad Watts his replacement.

Weekend teams

Round 25 schedule Page 45

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