Briers signs for Warrington

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Rugby League

Warrington yesterday rushed through the signing of the teenage scrum- half, Lee Briers, in time for him to play against his old club, St Helens, tomorrow.

Club officials had to negotiate the traffic chaos in Leeds in order to register Briers at the . He is seen as the answer to Warrington's problems in the position that began with the sacking of Willie Swann early this season and continued when the 16-year-old John Duffy broke his leg.

"I was a bit surprised when Saints agreed to let him go," said the Warrington chief executive, John Smith, of the 18-year-old Briers. "He showed a lot of potential in the games he played for them. Now we hope he will realise that potential with us. We have had a lot of injuries and off-loaded quite a few players, so we had one or two gaps and he will fill one of them."

Warrington have agreed to pay pounds 65,000 for Briers, who performed admirably as a stand-in scrum-half and goal-kicker for Saints during Bobbie Goulding's six-match suspension at the start of the season.

"The decision to part with him was made with extreme reluctance, but we couldn't guarantee him first-team football," the Saints chief executive, David Howes, said.

First-team football is clearly what Briers wants. "I've had a taste of Super League rugby and I like it," he said. "Warrington are a progressive club and I have been impressed by them."

His new coach, Darryl Van de Velde, must decide whether to start with him after only a couple of hours' training with his new team-mates, or to leave Kelly Shelford in the starting line-up and introduce Briers from the bench. Saints are waiting for a fitness check on Paul Newlove before finalising their side.

The London Broncos' forward, Russell Bawden, has won his appeal against a three-match ban for a spear tackle. Bawden was placed on report for a tackle on Halifax's Michael Jackson last Sunday, but an appeal panel overturned the original suspension, saying that he was being given "the benefit of the doubt".

The Leeds prop, Barrie McDermott, is in line for a recall to their side to face Sheffield Eagles tomorrow night. McDermott has served a three-game ban for a high tackle in the semi-final defeat by Bradford and came safely through an Alliance match against Featherstone this week.