England forces issue on Burgess, Ellis - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

England forces issue on Burgess, Ellis

By Ben Horne 20/05/2010 11:37:35 AM Comments (0)

England has named Australian-based stars Sam Burgess and Gareth Ellis to take on France in their upcoming rugby league Test, despite the players' NRL clubs refusing to confirm whether they will release the pair.

South Sydney and Wests Tigers have been reluctant to commit to releasing their internationals to travel across the world and back mid-season, and in the Rabbitohs case, also miss an NRL game.

But England coach Steve McNamara named Burgess and Ellis overnight for the Test in Manchester on June 12.

When contacted by AAP on Thursday morning, Souths CEO Shane Richardson said the club wouldn't comment until later on Thursday.

Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys said his club still hasn't made a decision on the matter.

"No not at this point, I communicated to the English rugby league that we were just going to assess how things went over the next couple of weeks both for our team and for Gareth and then make a decision," Humphreys said.

"It's a big honour to be selected for your country so we'd be loathed to not release him but at the same time our priorities are to to ourselves to see how the health of the team is and how Gareth's health is after the next couple of games and then make a call."

A statement on the English rugby league website says both players will join the England squad immediately after fulfilling their commitments to their NRL clubs in round 13, the week before the mid-season international - but this appears at odds with the attitude of the NRL clubs.

If released, Ellis would not miss a game for the Tigers as they have a bye which coincides with the Test, however Burgess wouldn't be available when Souths play Brisbane in round 14 if he was allowed to board a plane.

When the issue was first raised a couple of weeks ago, the Rabbitohs were adamant Burgess would not be made available for the trip, while the Wests Tigers said they had contractual and team issues to resolve before releasing Ellis.

McNamara is confident Burgess and Ellis will wear the red and white against France in the one-off Test.

"Sam and Gareth are important parts of our plans, both for the international and this year's Four Nations and beyond," said McNamara.

"We are about to embark on an exciting journey culminating in the 2013 rugby league world cup and the match against France is a significant juncture in our development.

"Both Sam and Gareth were instrumental in the progress we made during last year's Four Nations and have key roles to play in building on that momentum.

"We have kept close tabs on their progress in the NRL and are delighted by their form in 2010. I'm looking forward to working with them both again next month."

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