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Challenge Cup Final Preview

HUDDERSFIELD captain Chris Thorman is "extremely doubtful" for the Challenge Cup final with a hamstring injury and is undergoing acupuncture to get fit.

Fed Shield fixtures announced

ENGLAND will take on France, Samoa and Tonga in the newly-launched Federation Shield tournament in the European autumn.The second-tier international competition will take place at the same time as the Tri-Nations Series."International rugby league is the pinnacle of the game," said RFL executive chairman Richard Lewis."This new tournament will give fans the chance to see many of Europe's best players, together with emerging stars from the Pacific islands."The tournament gets under way on 22 October with Tonga against Samoa and England versus France at Headingley Stadium in Leeds.The final will be played at Widnes' Halton Stadium on 12 November.England, under new coach Paul Cullen, will also play matches at the Twickenham Stoop - the home of Super League side Harlequins - and Hull's KC Stadium, while there are two matches pencilled in for French venues.Federation Shield fixtures:22 October: Tonga v Samoa (1545 BST) and England v France (1745 BST) Headingley, Leeds28 October: France v Samoa (1900 BST) Colomiers*29 October: England v Tonga (1500 GMT) Twickenham Stoop, London5 November: England v Samoa (1500 GMT) KC Stadium, Hull5 November: France v Tonga (1500 GMT) Castres*12 November: Federation Shield final (1530 GMT) Halton Stadium, Widnes* Fixtures in France still subject to confirmation N.B. Tonga v Samoa match forms part of Pacific Group qualification for 2008 Rugby League World Cup Finals.Source: bbc.co.uk

Leeds sign Manly forward Leuluai

LEEDS have signed Manly prop Kylie Leuluai on a three-year deal from the start of next season.

Catalans sign Raiders star Croker

CATALANS Dragons have signed Canberra Raiders star and former Australia international Jason Croker on a two-year deal.

Preview: Hull KR v St Helens (C. Cup)

HULL KR will be without half-back Scott Murrell for their Powergen Challenge Cup semi-final against St Helens.Murrell, who was injured in training on Thursday, has suffered ankle ligament damage, although fears he had broken his ankle have proved unfounded.Jason Hooper joins Paul Sculthorpe and Mike Bennett on the Saints injury list.Jamie Lyon has been cleared to play despite being sent off last week while Sean Long is expected to return after missing the last two matches.Rovers coach Justin Morgan said: "It is a blow to Scott to miss out on a big occasion like this and also the club as he has been playing well."He could be out for something like a month but hopefully it will be less."Murrell reverted to stand-off when skipper James Webster returned to the side from injury against Widnes last Sunday.Morgan is likely to turn to either Gareth Morton or Tommy Gallagher to fill the number six shirt against Saints.The Robins, looking to reach their first Challenge Cup final for 20 years, are also without New Zealand second rower Michael Smith as well as loan duo Jon Whittle and Matty Brooks, who are both ineligible.Challenge Cup semi-final, Saturday, 29 JulyGalpharm Stadium, HuddersfieldKick-off: 1230 BST, live coverage on BBC 1St Helens (18-man squad): Wellens, Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Meli, Pryce, Long, Fozzard, Cunningham, Cayless, Gilmour, Wilkin, Roby, Anderson, Anderson, Graham, Hardman, Fa'asavalu.Hull KR (18-man squad): Cockayne, Steel, Couturier, Goddard, Ford, Morton, Webster, Aizue, Fisher, Tangata-Toa, Morrison, Netherton, Gallagher, Barker, Garmston, Ellis, Joseph, Stephenson.Source: bbc.co.uk

Morley avoids ban for Tri-Nations

GREAT Britain forward Adrian Morley is set to play in the Tri-Nations Series after receiving a seven-match ban from the Australian NRL.Morley has been suspended after using his knees in a tackle during Sydney Roosters' 25-0 defeat by Canterbury.He pleaded guilty to the charge, and will miss the Roosters' last six games of the season.Great Britain also have a warm-up match in Australia before the start of the Tri-Nations on 28 October.The news he will be available for the Tri-Nations will be a welcome boost for Great Britain coach Brian Noble.Morley has a poor disciplinary record and could have received a lengthy ban.He has missed 19 weeks through suspension since joining the Roosters in 2001.In the opening Test of the 2003 Ashes Series he was sent off after just 12 seconds for using his elbow in the first tackle of the match.Morley will return to England next season to play for Warrington in Super League. Source: bbc.co.uk

Wakefield split with coach Smith

WAKEFIELD have parted company with head coach Tony Smith with immediate effect.

Dragons say Mogg deal is still on

CATALANS Dragons have insisted they are unconcerned by reports suggesting centre Adam Mogg could remain with his present side Canberra Raiders.

Salford clinch Edmondson signing

SALFORD City Reds have signed former St Helens prop Mark Edmondson on a two-year deal from Sydney Roosters.

Leeds secure early Toopi release

KIWI Test centre Clinton Toopi has been granted an early release from his New Zealand Warriors contract to join Leeds for the rest of the season.

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