Betham and Catic banned for key Wakefield matches

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The Independent Online

The relegation-threatened Wakefield have lost two of their most battle-hardened forwards for a total of five matches after their dismissals last weekend.

The club's captain, Monty Betham, has been suspended for two games for the repeated punching of Ryan McGoldrick during the victory over Castleford on Saturday, and will miss the matches against the Catalans Dragons and Leeds. His team-mate, Ned Catic, will also miss the game against St Helens on 1 September after being found guilty of punching and butting in the same match.

"There's no way you could condone what happened," the Wakefield coach John Kear said of his players. "The players will accept their punishment. It makes us a bit skinny in certain areas, but that's rugby league." Kear also defused suggestions that McGoldrick had provoked Betham's reaction by attacking his eyes. "There is no way we would say that Ryan McGoldrick gouged one of our players," he said.

Wakefield are now level on points with Wigan, who have not appealed against their two-point deduction this week for breaching last season's salary cap. Bradford are likely to have their case, in which they are also accused of breaching last year's cap, heard next week.

The Warrington coach Paul Cullen has been appointed to coach England, the level one rung below the full Great Britain side. He succeeds Karl Harrison, who has resigned after being in charge since 2004. Cullen waspreviously assistant to Kear on England's 2002 tour to Fiji and Tonga.

His first responsibility will be to prepare for the tournament this autumn in which England will play France, Tonga and Samoa.

"It has been an ambition of mine to coach an international team and I'm very honoured," Cullen said.

The Super League leaders and Challenge Cup finalists, St Helens, hope to have Sean Long and Jason Hooper back in their side at Castleford on Sunday.

The Saints coach Daniel Anderson says he will resist the temptation to give Long, who has had a recurring leg problem, an extended rest.

Kris Radlinski is back in Wigan's squad to play at Leeds on Friday night after missing last week's win over the Catalans Dragons with a knee injury. Leeds hope to have Danny McGuire back.