HULL have suffered a double blow as they prepare for their engage Super League match against champions Bradford, with the loss of hooker Richard Swain and prop Ewan Dowes. Swain, Hull?s captain, is likely to be sidelined for at least six weeks with a torn bicep - while Dowes suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury in Friday?s 10-6 home defeat by Harlequins. ?Richard?s injury and loss puts pressure on us - but it also opens a door for someone else to step up to the plate and take their chance,? said coach John Kear.Hull, who have lost their last two matches, crashed to a club record 71-0 on their last visit to Odsal in the play-offs last October.Meanwhile, Bradford, who have the chance to leapfrog St Helens into top spot, are enjoying a 17-match unbeaten run stretching back to last July - but coach Brian Noble believes Hull represent dangerous opposition. ?There will be a lot of emotional issues in their thinking for this game,? he said. ?The last time they were here they lost 71-0, and it will have been in their minds during the close season. They have an early opportunity to put the record straight. ?They also started the season very well but have now lost two games in a row, and that is something they will want to put right.?New Zealand Test winger Lesley Vainikolo, who has played only one of the Bulls? opening four League matches because of an ankle injury, is included in the squad. Bradford Bulls v Hull FC, Odsal, Friday March 10 2006Bradford 18-man squad: Hape, Deacon, Vagana, Fielden, I. Harris, B. Harris, St Hilaire, Lynch, Bai, Gene, Pryce, Ferres, Vainikolo, Henderson, Langley, McKenna, Withers, Cook.Hull 18-man squad: Briscoe, Brough, Carvell, Chester, Cooke, Domic, Dixon, Hill, R. Horne, King, Lupton, Radford, Raynor, Thackray, Tony, Wheeldon, Yeaman, Whiting.Referee: K Kirkpatrick
WIGAN and Warrington meet at the JJB Stadium on Friday night desperate for points, having found themselves in the wrong half of the table after the first four rounds. While the Wolves have shown a gradual improvement since their opening-round defeat by Salford, Wigan are fresh from a crushing 28-10 defeat at Salford - a result coach Ian Millward is confident was a one-off. ?I?m disappointed that we?ve not got more than one win,? he said.?But if you look at the three games we lost the only one that has really upset me was the poor performance at Salford. ?I?d like to think it was a minor setback; I?m very confident that it was. ?We?ve made some mistakes but we?re working hard to rectify them, and I think people will see how hard we?ve been working on Friday night. ?I know where we?re going. Nothing has been lost, but we have a lot to gain. Twenty-four games is a lot of games.?Millward is boosted by the return of his captain Sean O?Loughlin and he will make a late decision on whether to play Australian Test forward Bryan Fletcher or give him another run-out with the Under-21s as he continues his rehabilitation from major stomach surgery. Warrington coach Paul Cullen, with virtually a full-strength pack to choose from, has dropped prop Danny Lima after a run of 50 successive appearances. ?Rob Parker?s recovery from injury gives me the opportunity to rotate the pack,? said Cullen, who is delighted with his side?s improved form. ?We have improved with every outing since round one. Unfortunately we came up against the best side in the competition last week - and we were one score off them. ?It is a mark of our progress that we were very disappointed we didn?t win. The mood in the camp is positive.?Wigan Warriors v Warrington Wolves, JJB Stadium, Friday March 10 2006Wigan 18-man squad: Ashton, Brown, Calderwood, Dallas, Godwin, Hargreaves, Hansen, Higham, Paleaaesina, Logan, Moran, O'Loughlin, Orr, Prescott, Richards, Seu Seu, Tickle, Vaealiki.Warrington 18-man squad: Grose, Fa'afili, M. Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Briers, Sullivan, Leikvoll, Clarke, Hilton, Swann, Wainwright, Noone, M. Gleeson, Westwood, Wood, Barnett, Parker, Bridge.Referee: A Klein
BRADFORD'S Australian second row forward Brad Meyers could be sidelined for nearly three months with a knee injury.The 26-year-old Meyers, who has missed only four matches since joining the Bulls from Brisbane Broncos 18 months ago, suffered ruptured medial ligaments in his left knee during his side's 50-18 win over Catalans Dragons last Saturday. Cook Islander Adam Watene, a close-season signing from Castleford, has been brought in as cover and could make his Bradford debut against Hull at Odsal on Friday.
CASTLEFORD and Catalans Dragons have announced their 20-man squads for Sunday's clash in round three of the engage Super League.Castleford v Catalans Dragons, Sunday February 26, kick-off 15.30Castleford 20-man: Platt, Pryce, Shenton, Dyer, Blanch, Handforth, Kain, Sculthorpe, Henderson, Nutley, Mason, Haughey, Roarty, Bird, Huby, Fletcher, A. Smith, Viane, Fa?aoso, McGoldrick.Catalans Dragons 20-man: Guigue, Murphy, Wilson, Hughes, Verges, Frayssinous, Beattie, Berthezene, Guisset, Hindmarsh, Mounis, Bosc, Rudder, Zitter, Chan, Fellous, Touxagas, Fakir, Casty, Rinaldi.Ref: S GansonThanks to www.superleague.co.uk
WARRINGTON?S pack is bolstered by the return of Australian Chris Leikvoll and the long-serving Mark Hilton but new signings Paul Rauhihi and Rob Parker are still on the sidelines and young second rower Andy Bracek drops out because of illness.Hull have skipper and hooker Richard Swain back from injury but prop Ewan Dowes is still out with hamstring trouble and Liam Higgins is set to continue to deputise.Warrington v Hull, Halliwell Jones Stadium, Saturday February 25, kick-off 6pmWarrington 18-man: Grose, Fa?afili, Martin Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Briers, Sullivan, Leikvoll, Clarke, Hilton, Swann, Wainwright, Noone, Mark Gleeson, Westwood, Wood, Lima, Barnett, Bridge.Hull 18-man: Blacklock, Briscoe, Brough, Carvell, Cooke, Domic, Higgins, R. Horne, King, Lupton, McMenemy, Radford, Raynor, Swain, Thackray, Tony, Whiting, Yeaman.Ref R Silverwood Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk
HARLEQUINS welcome back centre Tyrone Smith, who missed last week?s draw at Bradford through injury, but they are still without last year?s top tryscorer Luke Dorn and skipper Mark McLinden, who have both failed to recover from hamstring injuries. Teenager Tony Clubb is poised to make his home debut.Wakefield give a debut to loan signing Tommy Saxton at centre but they have lost second rower Jamie Field with an ankle injury and young forward Mark Applegarth is in coach Tony Smith?s 18-man squad.Harlequins RL v Wakefield, The Twickenham Stoop Saturday February 25, kick-off 3pmHarlequins RL 18-man: Bradley-Qalilawa, Gafa, Haumono, Heckenberg, Hopkins, Leuluai, Lolohea, Lucky Luisi, Mbu, Mills, Purdham, Smith, Sykes, Temata, Tookey, Weisner, Williams, Clubb.Wakefield 18-man: Halpenny, Demetriou, Whittle, Tadulala, Jeffries, Obst , Griffin, March, Korkidas, Solomona, Betham, White, MacGillivray, Elima, Henderson, Applegarth, Catic, Saxton.Ref I Smith Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk
FORMER Canberra assistant coach Terry Matterson has ruled himself out of contention for the looming Raiders vacancy.The Raiders are on the lookout for a new coach for 2007 after Matthew Elliott signed a three-year deal with Penrith last week. Matterson, 38, was linked with the Canberra job along with ex-Test coach Chris Anderson, Kevin Walters, current Raiders assistant David Furner and Peter Sharp.Matterson has also been named as a possible replacement for Newcastle mentor Michael Hagan who departs for Parramatta in 2007. However, Matterson says he will not turn his back on a two-year deal that he has just started with newly promoted English Super League club Castleford.
NEW Zealand Kiwis and Les Catalans Dragons halfback, Stacey Jones, has been ruled out of the English Super League competition for at least six weeks with a broken arm. Jones - who played an inspirational part in the Kiwis' Tri-Nations series win last year - was forced off the field in the early stages of the Round 2 ESL game against Salford. The 29-year-old Catalans Dragons skipper was taken to hospital and had his arm put into plaster. His recovery is expected to take six to eight weeks. The setback was compounded by the loss of the team?s other specialist scrum-half Julien Rinaldi, who went off late in the first half with a leg injury which could leave the French side without a recognized number seven for their next match at Castleford.Rinaldi, 26, is the current French number seven but had been switched to hooker to accommodate the arrival of Jones.
JAMIE Lyon is still undecided on his future plans as he prepares to embark on his second engage Super League campaign with pre-season favourite St Helens.The Australian centre is under contract with the Minor Premiers until the end of the year and the club is desperate to extend his deal at Knowsley Road. However, he is being courted by a number of Australian clubs - including Manly and the newly-formed Gold Coast franchise ? who would love to take him back to the NRL in time for the 2007 campaign.But the 24-year-old says he could find the lure of a return to his homeland with the chance to resume his representative career with New South Wales and the Kangaroos too good to turn down.
LEEDS Rhinos have received a massive boost ahead of the start of the new engage Super League season this Sunday at Headingley Carnegie against Huddersfield with the news that Head Coach Tony Smith has agreed a new one year extension which will keep him at Leeds until at least the end of 2007.Smith, who will come up against his former club this Sunday, was named engage Super League Coach of the Year last season and was due to be out of contract at the end of the 2006 season. However, he has agreed a one year extension now having moved to Headingley Carnegie at the start of the 2004 season.Commenting on the announcement Smith said, ?I?m delighted to have been offered and accepted an extension to my contract. It is an honour to coach a club that is always competitive and pushing for titles. I would like to thank Paul Caddick and Gary Hetherington for their backing and I had no hesitation in signing my new contract.?I have enjoyed my time already here at the club and I am looking forward to the future and working with the exciting players and backroom staff we have in place now at the Rhinos. The strength of our team both on and off the pitch was a major factor in my decision and we will have some exciting times in the future.?I am pleased to have got the extension sorted out before the start of the season and we can now concentrate on the year ahead and doing our best. Having recently been back to Australia, my family are very happy here in England and this is certainly home for us now,? added Smith.Chief Executive Gary Hetherington added, ?We are delighted Tony has accepted this extension and we are now looking forward to continue our progression under him and his coaching team over the next two years at least. Tony has done a tremendous job in his two years already at Headingley Carnegie and we are all looking forward to the new season now, starting on Sunday at home against Huddersfield.?