x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Barrett back for New South Wales

The former Wigan stand-off is to make a return to State of Origin rugby after a four-year absence.

The former Wigan stand-off Trent Barrett is to make a return to State of Origin rugby after a four-year absence. The former St George Illawarra captain, who returned to Australia last November after two seasons with Wigan, has been recalled for New South Wales' must-win game against Queensland in Brisbane on Wednesday week. Having revived Cronulla's fortunes, the Sharks skipper, 31, has now been asked to do the same with the Blues as they attempt to stave off a record fourth-successive series defeat.

Barrett, who will win his eighth Origin cap 12 years after making his debut, replaces Terry Campese, with Cronulla teammate Paul Gallen brought in for Anthony Laffranchi in the only other unforced change to the side that lost 28-18 in Melbourne. Former St Helens centre Jamie Lyon (ankle) will have to prove his fitness before taking his place in the team. Meanwhile the former Australian rugby league international Reni Maitua was given a two-year ban by the World Anti-Doping Authority Code (WADA) after testing positive for the banned substance clenbuterol.

Maitua, who plays for Sydney club Cronulla, denied knowingly taking the drug but said he had accepted his penalty without contesting the findings at a hearing. "I have no idea how this substance came to appear in my sample but I accept that it has," the 27-year-old said in a statement on Monday. "I understand my ignorance or lack of any intention on my part to breach anti-doping guidelines is no excuse.

"I accept that I have breached the policy and, as much as it pains me, I accept the punishment I shall suffer." * With agencies