Bradford take a gamble on injury-prone Hape

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The Independent Online

Bradford have signed the New Zealand Warriors' utility back, Shontayne Hape, as their new overseas player for next season.

Bradford have signed the New Zealand Warriors' utility back, Shontayne Hape, as their new overseas player for next season.

Hape, primarily a centre, but also capable of playing wing and full-back, will be a direct replacement for Brandon Costin, who is to rejoin Huddersfield. The 20-year-old represents a calculated risk by the Bulls because he has had two serious injuries in the last two years, including knee ligament damage which has kept him out of action this season.

"Shontayne is a tremendous athlete who will be a great addition to our squad for next season," said the Bulls' coach, Brian Noble. "He comes highly recommended and I'm delighted we have managed to secure his services despite several offers from Australian clubs."

Meanwhile, Bradford are biding their time in firming up their bid for relegated Salford's hooker, Malcolm Alker, until they know whether they have succeeded in talking the current incumbent, James Lowes, out of his retirement plans.

Alker would be free to move following his club's demotion from Super League, whilst St Helens' Mick Higham, the other young hooker in whom Bradford are interested, has another year to run on his contract.

The Salford coach Karl Harrison is to stay at the club despite their relegation. Harrison asked for time to consider his position but has now told the Reds that he plans to carry on.

The former Wigan and London coach, John Monie, is being tipped for a return to the front line with South Sydney, who are likely to sack their current coach after an unfavourable report on him from a sports psychologist.

Monie, who brought unprecedented success to Wigan in the first of his two stints there, has been working on an informal basis with Wayne Bennett at the Brisbane Broncos since returning to Australia.

The play-off clash between St Helens and Bradford a week on Saturday has been made all-ticket because of the anticipated demand. Crowds during the regular Super League season have averaged over 7,000 for the third year in succession. This year's average attendance was 7,220, compared with 7,987 in 2001.

Chris Chester of Hull KR, Batley's Glen Tomlinson and Steve McNammara of Huddersfield have been short-listed for the title of Northern Ford Premiership player of the year.

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