Black in
charge of Great Britain-Australia test

After speculation that Australian Tim Mander would get the job, Black's appointment was announced overnight, three days after the match officials were originally due to have been named.

New Zealand referee Glen Black has overcome the objections of Australian coach Wayne Bennett and been given control of the Tri-Nations rugby league test between the Kangaroos and Great Britain in Manchester on Saturday.

The confirmation came after discussions between the three members of the tournament sub-committee.

The subcommittee comprises the chairmen of the three competing countries -- Selwyn Pearson (New Zealand), Colin Love (Australia) and Richard Lewis (Great Britain).

Black, who refereed the Anzacs' match against Cumbria at Workington last night, said he was delighted and excited about getting the biggest assignment of his career so far.

What pleased him most was that his fate was now in his own hands.

"At the end of the day, I now control my own destiny and I appreciate that," he said.

"It's up to me and I'm absolutely looking forward to it. It's a huge challenge but one I believe I can do. A lot of people have put faith in my ability and I don't want to let them down."

The New Zealand Rugby League's stance had been that neutral referees should be in charge during the tournament and Black was their nominee.

However, Bennett last week questioned the Christchurch official's experience, asking: "Who is Mr Black?"

Bennett added that giving Black the nod would be like bringing a player out of the Queensland state league and putting him in the Australian team.

He was not immediately available for comment today, which is a day off for the Kangaroos.

Black said that he didn't take the controversy personally.

"I honestly kept right out of it," he said.

"I just concentrated on the Anzacs game and hoped that all went well behind the scenes."

The crowd at the 48,500-capacity City of Manchester Stadium, the home of English Premier League soccer club Manchester City, will be the biggest that Black has refereed in front off, with 36,000 tickets already sold.

The previous largest attendance he experienced was about 10,000 for an English Super League fixture.

Black has controlled two tests, both in last year's European Nations Cup -- between Wales and Russia, and between Ireland and France.

If Black had missed out on the Manchester match, the consolation prize was a trip to the south of France for the European tournament clash between France and England in Avignon, also on Saturday. Mander is heading across the Channel instead.

NZRL vice-chairman Selwyn Bennett, who is travelling with the Kiwis, said Black's appointment was a good result for New Zealand.

"It's excellent news and a step in the right direction," he said.

"We need to get another couple up there now."

Bennett said the key factor was the support the NZRL got from England's Rugby Football League over the principle of neutral referees, adding that there were no losers in the decision, which was beneficial to everyone.

He added that spectators at the Anzac game could tell that Black was "not a bad referee".

"People were judging him on what they didn't now."

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