Edwards keen to stay at Wigan

There was more good news to augment Wigan's winning weekend as their fans turned out in their thousands to welcome them home with the Challenge Cup yesterday. Shaun Edwards, the captain of the side who beat Leeds 30-10 at Wembley on Saturday to take the trophy for the eighth successive time, is keen to stay with them.

The 28-year-old Great Britain captain has yet to be offered a new contract for next season, and is believed to have been offered a lucrative deal to play in the Australian Rugby League. But Edwards, the only player to have appeared in all 42 ties during Wigan's unbeaten Challenge Cup run, said: "I will accept less money to stay at Wigan, but I'm not having them take advantage of me.

"I have shown a lot of loyalty in the past, not just to Wigan but to Great Britain as well. Other players less loyal than me have received offers and it's upsetting."

The club's chairman, Jack Robinson, obviously wants him to stay. "The last thing we want to do is lose Shaun. We are going to talk to him and we are going to look after him.We appreciate Shaun's qualities and everything he has done for us, but we have been fending off attacks on targeted players. We had to respond to that."

Edwards, Wigan's scrum-half, was inspirational in the Wembley triumph that drew 20,000 supporters on to the streets of Wigan yesterday as the team toured in an open-topped bus. In part they were there to bid farewell to their long-serving favourites, Denis Betts and Phil Clarke.

Betts said: "The Wigan people have put me where I am today and I'm pleased for them as much as myself to have won again at Wembley."

Henry Paul, a Wembley trys-corer, added: "The team spirit and supporters here are exceptional."

The substitute, Paul Atcheson, who twisted a knee in a tackle on Leeds winger Jim Fallon, said he would miss the start of Wigan's Premiership bid. "The knee is sore and I've been told it'll take at least two weeks to get right," he said.

Jason Robinson, the 20-year-old Great Britain winger Jason Robinson who took the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match after crossing for two well-taken tries against his home-town club, is one of the Wigan players to have accepted an offer to play in Australia.

Robinson, overlooked for Wembley last year by the then Wigan coach John Dorahy, leaves when his current contract expires in 1997 to take up a £1.25m four-year deal.

Wigan's coach, Graeme West, who has now captained and coached Wembley winners, said: "Jason is such an exciting player. The turning point was his second try - that sealed it."

n The chairmen of the Rugby League clubs were meeting in Huddersfield yesterday to reconsider the format of the proposed Super League.The meeting adjourned in the early evening but was due to resume later.

n Newcastle Knights, who have experienced a rousing revival this season under the guidance of the former Great Britain coach, Malcolm Reilly, maintained their unbeaten start in the Winfield Cup yesterday. They won 27-20 at Gold Coast - their eighth successive victory.They are level on points with Manly and the champions, Canberra Raiders - the only other unbeaten sides in the competition.

Challenge Cup final report,

Ken Jones, page 32