A Tale of Two HalvesLancashire and Yorkshire are ready to do battle again in the latest installment of the Origin Series.But there is another war going on.With Kevin Sinfield reveling in the stand-off position fellow Leeds Rhinos the battle for the scrum half spot is being currently contested by Paul Deacon of Bradford Bulls and Warrington Wolves Lee Briers.With St Helens' Sean Long ruled out, the renewed contest between Briers and Deacon mirrors the battle between the two last year for a place in the Great Britain Ashes Squad. Deacon got the nod from David Waite that time with many believing Briers was unfortunate to miss out. The contest for the Lancashire place is as equally intriguing.Brian Noble, the Yorkshire Head Coach, is also Deacon's coach at World Champions Bradford Bulls. Obviously Noble knows Deacon's game inside out, including his weaknesses. Knowing this, will master tactician Lancashire coach Ian Millward nullify Noble's inside knowledge by selecting Briers?Great Britain and Welsh international Lee Briers is renowned as a big game player. Man of the match, Briers famously used his superb kicking game to pen the Aussies back in their own half for sixty minutes before a strong comeback broke Welsh hearts in the 2000 World Cup semi final.In last years Challenge Cup semi-final Briers, against Deacon's club Bradford Bulls, was awarded man of the match for scoring a breathtaking hat trick of tries despite being on the losing side.Most recently Briers, fresh from scoring over a thousand points for the Wolves, has stepped up his game with superb individual performances against Hull, Castleford and St Helens, undoubtedly impressing the watching Great Britain coach David Waite and Lancashire Coach Ian Millward.His efforts have been rewarded with the captaincy of the squad following the departure of club captain Matt Rodwell.Warrington Wolves Head Coach Dave Plange backs Briers, "On current form Lee should certainly be in the Origin squad. It will be an ideal opportunity for him to gain selection for the Great Britain squad."In Tetley's Super League Round 13 it won't just be the two points the Wolves and the Bulls are fighting over, Origin halfback positions are up for grabs and the obvious rivals, Briers and Deacon will be keen toimpress. Briers' kicking game and his ability to rise for the big occasions may prove decisive. Deacon also has a brilliant kicking game and his performances have compensated for Bradford's loss of Henry Paul. Thiscertainly won't harm his case. With talent like this at Lancashire's disposal, who ever gets the nod is sure to worry the team from the wrong side of the Pennines.
29, May, 2002