SCOTLAND hooker Ben Fisher has announced he will retire at the end of the World Cup.
The Sydney-born 32-year-old, who has spent the last decade playing club rugby league in England and France, will hang up his boots after adding to his 12 caps for Scotland.
London Broncos’ former Hull KR hooker Fisher, who is in coach Steve McCormack’s 19-man squad for tomorrow’s opening game against Tonga at Workington, said: “I’ve had a great career and can’t think of a better way to go out, competing in a second World Cup. I’ve been involved in about eight Scotland squads I think, and this is the best I’ve seen.”
Fisher, whose father was born and raised in Glasgow, played in the last World Cup in 2008 and was in the team that beat semi-finalists Fiji. Brisbane Broncos scrum-half Peter Wallace is set to make his Bravehearts debut alongside fellow NRL players Matt Russell and Luke Douglas (both Gold Coast), Kane Linnett (North Queensland) and Super League duo Danny Addy (Bradford) and Ben Kavanagh (Widnes).
In the RWC yesterday, Manu Vatuvei scored a hat-trick of tries as New Zealand made a 44-24 winning start to the defence of their World Cup crown, but it was outsiders Samoa who stood out in an action-packed group A match in Warrington.
The Kiwis were strolling to victory after scoring at a point a minute throughout the first quarter and they led 36-4 until collapsing in dramatic fashion to concede four tries in 13 minutes.
The holders’ embarrassment was complete when Sonny Bill Williams, back in the side after a five-year absence, broke clear 12 minutes from the end but lost his footing on the greasy surface and failed to touch down before sliding over the dead-ball area. Williams’ misfortune was lapped up by the sell-out crowd of 13,965 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium who took the Samoans to their hearts.
France rolled up their sleeves and defied a partisan East Hull crowd to win their Group B opener with Papua New Guinea 9-8 at Craven Park, but they were not without their fair share of good fortune in doing so.
Tackling some tough elements by the Humber and faced with a PNG side considered their own by the Hull fans, Richard Agar’s men will not regard this as their finest performance, but at least they got the job done.
Their luck came in the shape of the PNG full-back David Mead who missed two conversions and a 79th-minute penalty which meant that William Barthau’s 64th-minute drop goal proved to be the match-winner.
With their deep-rooted links to Hull KR because of former players Makali Aizue and Stanley Gene, the Kumuls were afforded hero status from the crowd of 7,481 who for a long time had plenty to cheer about.
Meanwhile, full-back Sam Tomkins refused to take any satisfaction from an encouraging performance in England’s 28-20 defeat by tournament favourites Australia in Saturday’s World Cup opener. Steve McNamara’s men defied all expectations by pushing the Kangaroos all the way. But Tomkins, who was a double winner with Wigan this year, was not consoled by the manner of defeat. “It’s disappointing,” he said. “We’ve a lot to improve on, that’s the main thing to come out of it.”
Scotland squad: D Addy (Bradford), D Brough (Huddersfield, capt), B Carter (Workington), L Douglas (Gold Coast), D Ferguson (Huddersfield), B Fisher (London Broncos), B Hellewell (Featherstone), I Henderson (Catalan Dragons), A Hurst (London Broncos), B Kavanagh (Widnes), K Linnett (North Queensland), B Phillips (Workington), M Russell (Gold Coast), D Scott (Featherstone), M Stringer (Sheffield Eagles), A Szostak (Sheffield Eagles), A Walker (Hull KR), P Wallace (Brisbane), O Wilkes (Wakefield).