Bell rings time on Wigan era

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The Independent Online

Dean Bell, one of the men most closely associated with Wigan's glory days, is leaving the club after 15 years. The New Zealander played for Wigan for eight years, captaining them to some of their most memorable triumphs, and returned to be youth development executive for the last seven years.

In between, he played for Leeds and had much to do with making their Academy the most productive in the game. His role at Wigan was similar, although his work at youth level has not translated into recent success for the first team.

"It's always sad to leave somewhere where you have such great memories, but I've no doubt Brian Noble wants to do things his way," Bell said. "I've no lifetime mortgage on the job. It could be time for a new challenge and I'd be lying if I said New Zealand wasn't an option."

The Wigan chairman, Maurice Lindsay, who first signed Bell in 1986, paid tribute to his influence over two decades. "Dean has been one of the most important signings the club has ever made," he said. "He was captain during our halcyon days and his influence carried on after his retirement through our youth development scheme."

The Hull prop Scott Wheeldon has described fearing that he was going to die during an allergic reaction at the club's pre-season training camp in Portugal.

The 20-year-old player scratched himself on a bush while retrieving a ball. Wheeldon, 20, recovered after his team-mate, Danny Washbrook, dashed back to their hotel room for an antidote with which he was issued after a previous attack.

"He looked like he was going to croak," said the Hull captain, Lee Radford.

The new Australian club, the Gold Coast Titans, have opened talks with the representatives of Lote Tuqiri, the Wallaby wing who wants to return to rugby league after union's World Cup. The Titans have money to spend after Brian Carney's decision to retire rather than join them for their inaugural season.

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