Four-month drug ban for Watson

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The Independent Online

Dave Watson, the New Zealand international, yesterday suffered the same fate as his Bradford Northern team-mate, David Myers, when he was banned for four months and fined £2,000 for failing to produce a sample for a drug test.

Watson was also warned by the Rugby League that he faces a life ban if he breaches the sport's doping control regulations again in the future. He was suspended for three months in 1992, while with Halifax, after testing positive for cannabis.

The 28-year-old full-back, who is on the transfer list at £150,000, was appearing before the Rugby League's board of directors in Leeds four days after Myers was punished.

Both players had failed to provide urine samples as requested following the home game against Hull on 19 February - the date from which the suspension counts. Watson was also tested the previous week - after a Challenge Cup tie at Leeds - but the Sports Council's sampling officers were not satisfied with the circumstances under which the test was taken. Watson has 14 days in which to lodge an appeal.

The planned merger between Sheffield Eagles and crisis club Doncaster is off. The shock decision follows yesterday's ruling by the Rugby League that some Doncaster players can become free agents with immediate effect.

Sheffield had offered to merge with their south Yorkshire neighbours in the summer, but not if certain players were granted free agent status. Now around eight Doncaster players can sign for other clubs. One of them - the Western Samoan centre Vila Matautia - has already been linked with St Helens.

The RL will now underwrite the cost of operating Doncaster until the end of the season and will meet the administrator on Monday to finalise the details.

Two days after being appointed as Salford's player-manager until the end of next season, the former Great Britain scrum-half Andy Gregory comes up against the biggest obstacle in the British game - Wigan.

Gregory's appointment as the new Salford boss, in place of the Australian Garry Jack, who resigned last Monday, was confirmed by Salford yesterday and he now faces the club with whom he achieved so much as a player.

Salford are likely to make a change with the centre Scott Naylor doubtful with an ankle injury for tomorrow's game against his old club. The Wigan coach, Graeme West, delays his selection until today. Martin Offiah is virtually certain to miss the game with a thigh injury, but the front row should be more familiar with Kelvin Skerrett and Martin Hall ready to resume after being rested for the Widnes match in midweek.