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3 days ago
English rugby league club Leeds reiterated their reluctance to release Brent Webb if the fullback is named in the Kiwis side for next week's Centenary Test against Australia.
Webb is likely to be at the top of new Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney's list of players he wants to bring back from England for the Test in Sydney on May 9.
However, Leeds, coached by former Kiwis mentor Brian McClennan, have a Challenge Cup match that weekend against fellow Super League side Harlequins.
The Yorkshire club say they want to put their best line-up out, even though international rules say players must be available if called up by their country.
Chief executive Gary Hetherington said Leeds had stated some weeks ago when the subject was first broached that they would be unwilling to release Webb.
The issue had been handed to England's Rugby Football League to take up with the New Zealand Rugby League.
Hetherington said Leeds had always released players in the past, but the present situation was a new one in that the clash of dates was not with a Super League fixture, but a knock-out cup tie.
If it had been a league match, "we would have been delighted to release Brent, but in the event we have a Challenge Cup tie," he told Radio Sport.
"There are no second chances in the Challenge Cup. The view that our club took was that it would be unfair on our players and fans not to go into that game with our best team."
He said that view had been passed on to the RFL "and that's where we've left it".
Hetherington was asked if it was of any relevance in terms of the release rules that the match was in the Challenge Cup rather than the Super League.
"That's the big issue and that's the issue the game's authorities are grappling with," he said.
"It's the first time this situation has ever cropped up, so the matter is being dealt with by the RFL. At the end of the day we will have to abide by whatever that ruling is."
Hetherington also said Leeds had never thought the Kiwis would select Webb because of the lengthy travel involved and short preparation time he would have with the rest of the squad.