For a few minutes yesterday morning, St Helens' Mick Higham became a Bradford player after the Bulls paid a £70,000 fee to release him from the remaining year of his contract. But, almost immediately, Bradford swapped him for Wigan's Terry Newton, who has gone to Odsal on a four-year deal.
It has been an open secret for weeks that the unlikely three-way deal, was being brokered. It spared Saints and Wigan from doing direct business at a time when relations have been strained, although Saints insisted that their neighbours had made no approach for Higham.
"Terry was approaching the end of his contract and had obtained a four-year deal with the Bradford Bulls," said the Wigan chairman, Maurice Lindsay. "We were prepared to release Terry on the understanding that we would be able to get Mickey Higham, who is highly rated by our coach, Ian Millward."
Unlike Higham, Newton will not be able to make his debut for his new club at the start of next season. His suspension for two tackles in a match at St Helens - one of which left Sean Long with a fractured cheekbone - does not end until 15 April next year.
"We feel that once Terry has served his suspension the matter will be closed and he will prove to be a high-quality signing," said the Bradford coach, Brian Noble, adding that Newton would have been in his Great Britain squad for the Tri-Nations had he been available. "Rugby league is full of people who have made mistakes and put it behind them. Terry deserves that opportunity and he will get that at Bradford."
Wigan have shed James Coyle, who made four appearances at scrum-half this season. He joins Widnes.
Andrew Dunemann, who played for Leeds in the Super League Grand Final defeat by Bradford on Saturday is joining Salford on a two-year contract.
Craig Huby, who helped Castleford win promotion to Super League, has agreed a contract extension with the club.
The Great Britain captain, Jamie Peacock, has joined his team-mates at their warm-weather training camp in Spain after treatment on knee and groin injuries.
Controversy has surrounded the build-up to the Tri-Nations match between New Zealand and Australia today, with Australia accusing the Kiwis of having the pitch narrowed at Auckland's Eriksson Stadium, supposedly to give them a better chance.
New Zealand won the first match in Sydney last Saturday by 38-28. Their captain, Ruben Wiki, plays his 46th Test today, equalling the world record held jointly by his fellow-countryman, Gary Freeman, and two Britons, Mick Sullivan and Garry Schofield.Reuse content