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The BARLA Great Britain Lions have been rocked by a double blow ahead of their Cumbrian showdown with France on Saturday 20th September, kick off 6:30pm.
With the game at the Recreation Ground just two weeks away, experienced International Nigel Halmshaw has announced his retirement from representative rugby, while East Hull prop James Aramayo has pulled out through injury.
West Bowling's Halmshaw Captained the Lions for the inaugural Victory Cup in May and was Vice Captain against the Australian Aboriginals at the back end of 2002.
Lions Manager Neil Baxter said: "We are obviously very disappointed that we will be missing both Nigel and James for such a huge game. We are playing the full French International side who are using this game as preparation for the forthcoming European Championship and would have loved to have had such quality players in our side."
He continued, "Nigel obviously feels that it is time for him to step down from the international stage and you have to respect his decision. He has been a great servant to the BARLA national side."
He added, "However, we are still confident of producing a good display and in calling up Paul Birdsall we have brought in yet another quality player with international experience."
The Lions will go into the game with a reduced squad of 19 and Paul Birdsall's inclusion will go some way to making up for his late withdrawal from the Lions squad against the Australian Aboriginals last year. Birdsall missed the entire Aboriginal series after breaking his jaw playing for Lock Lane.
The hosts will be out to gain revenge for a narrow 30-24 defeat in Moscow last May, and could again face up to Warrington Wolves Super League star Jerome Guissett.
Paul Birdsall (Castleford Lock Lane) Anthony Broadhead (Thornhill Trojans) Jon Cole (Woolston Rovers) Gavin Corfield (Wigan St Judes) Phil Crane (Skirlaugh) Paul Davidson (Wath Brow Hornets) Tom Goulden (Leigh Miners Rangers) Terry Lynn (West Hull) John McMullen (Wigan St Judes) Darren Mitchell (Thatto Heath) Gary Mowforth (Cottingham Tigers) Eddie Robinson (Ellenborough Rangers) Matt Rogers (Eastmoor Dragons) Carl Rudd (Wath Brow Hornets) Scott Teare (Wath Brow Hornets) Phil Thacker (Skirlaugh) Paul Toole (Blackbrook) Gary Weymes (East Hull) Leigh Wingfield (Leigh East)
Mick Turner (Coach) Mick Swift (Assistant Coach) Trevor Wiseman (Physio) Neil Baxter (Team Manager)
BARLA GREAT BRITAIN v FRANCE:
Saturday 20th September 2003 The Recreation Ground, Whitehaven Kick Off: 6:30pm
In other news:
The British Amateur Rugby League Association is delighted to announce that Tetley's will again be sponsoring both the Yorkshire and Lancashire BARLA County Cups.
Gareth Roberts, Tetley's Sponsorship Manager, said: "I am delighted that we are once again able to confirm our support of both the Yorkshire and Lancashire County Cups. It is important to Tetley's that we invest across the spectrum of Rugby League and we recognise the crucial role played in the game by the grassroots."
He added: "I would like to wish every club the very best of luck in this years competitions."
Tetley's association at the highest level of Rugby League, as title sponsors of the Tetley's Rugby Super League, is complimented by a number of partnerships through all levels of the game including the title sponsorship of the BARLA Yorkshire and Lancashire Cups.
BARLA Director Ian Cooper said: "Tetley's sponsorship of both the Yorkshire and Lancashire County Cups and their support for the amateur game is greatly appreciated. I am sure that this season's competitions will once again be a tremendous showcase for BARLA, culminating in the Finals which have established themselves as outstanding Rugby League events."
Current Cup Tetley's Yorkshire Cup holders East Hull have moved to the Arriva Trains National Conference League so are unable to defend their crown, however their second team have entered the competition and have been given a bye into the second round. 2002 runners up Cutsyke Raiders are excempt from the first round draw.
In the Tetley's Lancashire Cup runners up Bold Miners face a tricky looking tie at Milnrow, whilst Cup holders Widnes Albion are also on their travels as they face Bamber Bridge.
Brighouse Rangers v Dodworth Emley Moor v Bentley Good Companions Kinsley Raiders v Lindley Swifts Kippax v Clayton New Earswick AB v Redhill Oulton v St Josephs Myton Warriors v Moldgreen Normanton Knights v Dewsbury Celtic Odsal Sedburgh v Bilton Sullys Swillington v Liversedge Upton v Dewsbury Moor West Hull Lions v Halifax Irish Bradford Dudley Hill v West Bowling Crigglestone AB v Drighlington Keighley Town v Huddersfield Sharks Orchard Park v Batley Boys Ossett Trinity v Eastmount Reckitts v Thornhill Trojans York Groves v Castleford Panthers
Tetley's Lancashire Cup - First Round - Saturday 13 September 2003, kick off 2.00 pm
Bank Quay Bulls v Oldham St Anne's Hindley v Leigh Miners Rangers
(Round Two - Saturday 27th September)