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No deadline on All Golds player

Published: 8:31AM Saturday May 05, 2007 Source: AAP

Newly-elected New Zealand Rugby League chairman Andrew Chalmers says filling the vacancy left by the retired Andrew Johns in the historic All Golds team is not high on his priorities.

Chalmers said he was excited about the future as he officially began rebuilding the damage done by the 2006 "granny gate" controversy.

Chalmers has been acting chairman since taking over from Sel Bennett who resigned when it was revealed Queensland-born Nathan Fien had illegally played for the Kiwis in the Tri Nations tournament.

His parental link turned out to be grand parent.

However, Chalmers said it could take months for Johns' All Golds replacement to be named.

Australian skipper Darren Lockyer, retired great Brad Fittler and England-based ex-Kangaroo Trent Barrett are in contention to replace Johns as Dally Messenger's representative in the All Golds team for the October 20 match that commemorates rugby league's first international tour in 1907.

New Zealand coach Brian McClennan believed a decision would be made this week.

However, Chalmers said today: "There have been discussions with our convenor of selectors but we are not putting ourselves under any deadline.

"We will roll it out in the coming months."

The Wigan hierarchy are pushing for Barrett, saying he is a "clear favourite" to replace Johns.

Former Dragons skipper Barrett has been described as a "modern great" at his new club after a blistering start to the English Super League season.

After bagging eight tries and steering the once battling Wigan to a top four spot on the Super League ladder, Barrett has been described as "head and shoulders" above anyone in the English competition.

"Trent is head and shoulders above everyone else in this competition," Wigan hooker Shane Millard told Wigan Today newspaper.

Teammate Iafeta Paleaaesina gushed: "Trent is really coming into his own. He is a modern great."

Chalmers today said while it was logistically easier to use an England-based player for the All Golds team he admitted it would not be the deciding factor.

"It will not make any difference if the player is based in England or Australia," he said.

Chalmers said the hard work would begin in earnest following the damaging "granny gate" fiasco after being unanimously elected as chairman.

"It is accurate to say there is an air of expectation about what the future holds," he said.

Phil Campbell was voted in as vice-chairman and Ron McGregor as president.

"As part of the reform that the NZRL has undertaken in recent months, there is now an expanded board of nine directors," an NZRL spokesman said.

"Six of these were elected by members and the remaining three will be selected and appointed in the next three weeks."