Bradfordmake move for Carling approach

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Dick Best, Harlequins' director of rugby, has attempted to quash speculation that the former England union captain, Will Carling, may play for Bradford Bulls next summer.

Bulls revealed that their captain, Robbie Paul, has asked his Quins team- mate to guest for the Super League club, although they did not expect him to take up the offer.

Best said: "Will has been plagued with rugby league stories all his career. He's not gone yet, so why should he go now? It's the first I've heard of it today and I assume that I would be one of the first to know if he's going north."

As part of the deal in which the Bulls allowed Paul to play in the winter with Harlequins, Bradford have the right to approach any Harlequins player to play Super League.

Peter Deakin, the Bulls' marketing executive, said: "We know that Robbie has asked Will if he would like to play next summer but we have yet to receive any kind of definite answer."

Carling, England's most successful captain after leading his country to 44 wins in 59 matches, was once tempted by a pounds 1m four-year offer to play for Leeds and also received an offer of pounds 400,000 from Warrington.

In his autobiography, he said of the Leeds offer: "I thought about it but, deep down, I knew I wouldn't go."

The Australian Rugby League has launched a 12-team competition for 1997 in direct rivalry with a probable 10-team Super League. The ARL chief executive, John Quayle, said its Premiership would begin on 14 March.

The ARL lost eight clubs to Super League, which last week won an appeal against court orders banning it until 2000 and is now free to start in Australia for the first time next year.

While the full draw for next year will not be released until next week, Quayle said the season will kick off with a match between Parramatta and North Sydney.

Workington have signed Craig Spark and David Baildon from Gold Coast on one-year deals for next season.