Bradford's 'gamble' on St Hilaire pays out

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The Independent Online

Bradford will put all thoughts of off-field problems out of their minds for today's trip to Harlequins.

The Bulls have started to hit their traditionally formidable late-season form, but have a cloud hanging over them in the form of a charge that they breached last year's salary cap. Their case will be heard next week and could lead to a points deduction, as it did for Wigan, but their coach, Steve McNamara, says that has not affected their preparations. "Until all the facts are there we don't need to know," he said.

Marcus St Hilaire has been rewarded for his contribution this season by being given an improved contract for next year, after what McNamara called a "calculated gamble" on the former Leeds utility back. With Paul Johnson returning after a two-month absence, McNamara has a fully fit squad to choose from, apart from the young forward, Sam Burgess.

Quins, not completely clear of relegation, have some good news of their own. Their former Bradford player Paul Sykes was not slated to play again this year after damaging his kidneys in February, but is back in the frame.

"I didn't really think that I would be back on the pitch this season, but I kept hoping it might happen," he said. Sykes' return today compensates for the absence of Thomas Leuluai, while the Harlequins' coach, Brian McDermott, is also able to bring back Rob Purdham, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Anthony Sullivan.

Relegation-threatened Wakefield pay the price for their indiscipline during last week's win at Castleford by having Monty Betham and Ned Catic suspended for tomorrow's game at home to the Catalans Dragons. John Kear is likely to use Darrell Griffin and David Wrench as replacements for the forwards. Paul White, Mark Applegarth and Kevin Henderson are also added to the squad.

Castleford are without the injured Peter Lupton and the suspended Danny Brough against St Helens. They leave out Super League's oldest player, Brad Davis, but include four youngsters from their Academy side.

Huddersfield have three likely members of their Challenge Cup final side - Paul Reilly, Eorl Crabtree and Paul Jackson - back for the visit of Hull, but could be without Stuart Jones who has a facial injury.

In National League One, relegated Oldham will set an unwanted club record of 16 consecutive defeats if they lose to Batley.