Castleford still crave Kiwi influence

Rugby league
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The Independent Online
TWO of the remaining ties in the fourth round of the Silk Cut Challenge Cup this afternoon emphasise the enduring value of New Zealand imports to the British game.

Castleford, who entertain St Helens in the match postponed from last Saturday, fear that their two Kiwis, Frano Botica and Tawera Nikau, may never appear in the same side together. Botica, Castleford's biggest signing during a bitterly disappointing last winter season, is fit again, but is unlikely to be risked after just one A team game, and by the time Cas are convinced he has fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered playing for Auckland Warriors, Nikau will probably have left the club.

Although Castleford will still not confirm it, the former Test loose forward will leave them after five years as soon as they are knocked out of the Cup, to re-join the Australian club Cronulla. That will be a serious loss, although Brendon Tuuta - yet another Kiwi - has already been brought in from Featherstone to fill the gap.

The other outstanding tie of the day is at Oldham, whose visitors, Warrington, are looking forward to the arrival of a New Zealander who carries the very highest recommendation.

"They say he is as good as Henry Paul was at the same age," Warrington's football executive, Alex Murphy, said of the 19-year-old Toa Love. "If he has as much talent as Henry Paul has in one leg, he will do for us."

Love, a centre who has been selected for the Junior Kiwis, was due to join John Dorahy at Western Reds in Perth. "But now that I've left Perth to coach Warrington, he decided that he wanted to come here," Dorahy said. "He's a player of great potential."

The readjustment of the international quota leaves Warrington with the room to accommodate Love, although there remains the possibility of further arrivals as Dorahy uses his knowledge of the players available in the southern hemisphere.

One player with whom he has been strongly linked, the English centre Barrie-Jon Mather, is now back in Perth, where he played for the Reds last season, but both Warrington and the London Broncos have made inquiries about him since a judge confirmed that he remains Wigan's property.

The problem is that none of those clubs will come close to Wigan's pounds 150,000 asking price for the disaffected Mather. It could be some time before he is able to participate in a Challenge Cup tie, or in any other match.