Cunningham Out Of Ashes Series

St Helens trio Keiron Cunningham, Keith Mason and Mike Bennett have been withdrawn from the Great Britain and England A squads for this Autumn's international programme. Cunningham has pulled out of the Lions squad for the 'Think! Road Safety' Ashes Series with a leg injury, following consultation with the Great Britain medical staff.

The luckless Welsh international missed the Ashes Series two years ago with a hernia injury and suffered a dislocated elbow in the First Test of last year's clashes against New Zealand.

Mason, the former Melbourne prop, and back rower Bennett have been forced to withdraw from John Kear's England A set-up with calf injuries.

"The medical team advised me that all three players would not recover in time to play in the international fixtures so they have been ruled out of our plans," said Lions coach and RFL performance director David Waite.

"It is a great pity for them as they are fine players but we were left with no alternative."

Cunningham's withdrawal means that Wigan's Terry Newton is a near-certainty to start at hooker for Great Britain against Australia in the Test Series, which kicks off at Wigan on Saturday 8 November.

England A meet Australia at Griffin Park on Tuesday 28 October (8pm) before facing Russia at Bradford (2 November, 3pm) and Wales at Headingley (9 November, 3pm) in the European Nations Cup.