Australian clubs target British talent

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The Independent Online

South Sydney are ready to pay a hefty compensation bill to take Sam Burgess from Bradford in time for next season.

The NRL club, part-owned by the actor, Russell Crowe, are preparing to announce the signing of the 22-year-old Test forward this week, according to sources in Australia. Burgess is under contract to the Bulls until the end of the 2010 season, but Souths, having seen the impact of another British forward, Gareth Ellis, at Wests Tigers, are ready to pay whatever it takes to get him early.

That will not be the ends of the raids on young British talent. The former Wigan captain, Dean Bell, now with the New Zealand Warriors, has said that is where his club will look for future signings.

Another former Wigan player, Trent Barrett (right), is the surprise inclusion in the Australian squad for this autumn's Four Nations in England. Barrett has not played for two months with a fractured eye socket, but has been drafted in because of doubts over the fitness of the captain, Darren Lockyer.

Olivier Elima, the forward who has scored 17 tries for the Catalan Dragons so far this season, has been named as the new French captain for the tournament. He replaces Jerome Guisset, who has announced his international retirement.

Three young half-backs who are widely expected to fight out the England Test spots in years to come – Sam Tomkins of Wigan, Kyle Eastmond of St Helens and Warrington's new signing, Richie Myler – are the nominees for Super League Young Player of the Year, to be announced next week.

The RFL is hailing the new ClubCall – under which Leeds were allowed to choose their next play-off opponents system as a success. The League believes that it created extra publicity for the play-offs.

Hull KR's Ben Galea has been issued with a formal warning over a tackle on Wigan prop Andy Coley's shoulder joint at the weekend.

Paul Kidd, the longest-serving coach in the professional game, is standing aside to become director of coaching at Swinton. They will be player-coached next season by Paul Smith, assisted by another returning ex-Swinton player, Ian Watson.

Smith will play for Halifax in this Sunday's Championship Grand Final, while Watson has finished his season with Leigh.