Botham retires due to neck injury

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"I had a neck injury last season and had to have six or eight weeks rest with that," he said. "Everything was going great, but against Warrington I went into a tackle and had shooting pains."

The injury was aggravated in the defeat at St Helens last month and now a neuro-surgeon has advised him to give up playing. "I have children to think about and I've put myself first for once," said Botham, who played county cricket for Hampshire and rugby union for Cardiff and Newcastle among others before trying his hand at league.

After playing in the Academy at Bradford and on loan with London Broncos, he established himself in the squad at Leeds this season, only to switch to Wigan in search of a long-term contract. "I've had 12 great years in sport," he said, "but I wish I'd come to rugby league earlier."

Sonny Bill Williams, rated by many as the best player in last season's Tri-Nations, has been ruled out of this year's tournament with a knee injury and arrested for drink-driving. The New Zealander failed a breath test in Sydney yesterday after being told that his injury will keep him out of action for the rest of the year.

"This week I did find out that I would be missing the rest of the year and not going on the Tri-Nations tour, but there's no way I'll be using that as an excuse," he said. His club, Canterbury, has already fined him $5,000 (£2,200) for the offence.

Castleford, top of National League One, have had their forward Craig Huby suspended for one match for a careless high tackle. He will miss Sunday's home game against Halifax.