Barnett given two-year ban for failing April drug test

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The former Warrington winger, Richie Barnett, has been banned for two years after testing positive for a performance enhancing drug last season.

Barnett returned a sample containing elevated levels of testosterone after the Super League game against Salford as long ago as last April. The delay in announcing the result, the League says, was caused by the need to take further tests to establish the player’s normal level.

The 26-year-old Barnett first emerged through the England Students side, turning professional with Gateshead and first playing in Super League for Hull. He also had a spell on loan with Widnes before joining Warrington.

He finished last season at Salford, but was not offered a contract for this year and has been out of the game since.

Luke Burgess, elder brother of Bradford’s Sam, will make his first-team debut for Leeds at Castleford tonight.

The 21-year-old prop comes into the Rhinos’ side because Brian McClennan has decided to rest Jamie Peacock against Super League’s last-placed club. Burgess has previously made substitute appearances on loan at Harlequins.

Leeds are also without Clinton Toopi and Danny McGuire with injuries from the World Club Challenge victory over Melbourne, whilst Cas, without a point so far, have Michael Shenton, Stuart Donlan and Ryan Clayton back in contention.

Matty Smith plays his first game of the season for St Helens against Hull tonight, standing in for Sean Long, who is nursing a knee injury. Jon Wilkin is poised to replace Paul Sculthorpe.

Mike Burnett, a 19-year-old back-rower, could make his Hull debut in place of Matty Dale, who has pulled a hamstring in training.

The New Zealand RL has blamed the poor crowd for last season’s All Golds Centenary match at Warrington for losses of over £600,000 for the year.