Bradford Bulls' Wembley plans were thrown into disarray yesterday when Robbie Paul was called up for New Zealand's Super League Test against Australia on 25 April, a week before the Challenge Cup final.
Although Paul is named only as a substitute, the loss of their influential half-back and captain in the week leading up their Cup final re-match with St Helens is an unwelcome intrusion.
He will miss Bradford's matches against Halifax on 23 April 23 and Sheffield four days later before flying back to resume his side's Cup preparations.
Paul's older brother, Henry, of Wigan, who elected not to play for New Zealand last year, will start the Test match at full-back in place of the injured captain, Matthew Ridge.
Henry is currently out of the Wigan side with a back injury sustained on Good Friday. Yesterday he said he would be resuming full training on Wednesday and could play against Oldham on Sunday. He will miss only one game, at Salford on 25 April.
The former Castleford loose forward Tawera Nikau, now with Cronulla Sharks, returns to the Test side, replacing the injured Logan Swann.
David Ward has resigned as coach of Featherstone Rovers after two and a half years in charge at Post Office Road. Rovers are second from bottom of the First Division with only three points from their first seven matches. Howard Cartwright and Kevin Hobbs have been put in temporary charge.
Ward is the seventh coaching casualty of a season just five weeks old. Graeme West was sacked at Wigan in February and since then Steve Simms (Halifax), John Dorahy (Warrington), John Joyner (Castleford), Peter Roe (Swinton) and Ross O'Reilly (Workington) have departed.
The Silk Cut Challenge Cup final on 3 May is a sell-out with the 77,500 tickets generating record receipts in excess of pounds 2m.
John Schuster, the Halifax centre, will be out of the game for six weeks after breaking a bone in his leg during Sunday's draw with London.Reuse content