Broncos keep faith in Rea as threat of relegation grows

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The Independent Online

Tony Rea has been promised that the London Broncos' dismal form this season will not cost him his job as coach. The Broncos, who go in search of only their fourth win of the year at St Helens tonight, made the play-offs last season, so this campaign has been a huge disappointment.

Tony Rea has been promised that the London Broncos' dismal form this season will not cost him his job as coach. The Broncos, who go in search of only their fourth win of the year at St Helens tonight, made the play-offs last season, so this campaign has been a huge disappointment.

The club's chief executive, Nic Cartwright, has even hinted that relegation could mean going out of business if they are overhauled by Castleford and finish bottom of Super League, but he says that they will not sacrifice Rea in an attempt to stay up.

"When we finished fifth last year, we didn't treble his wages, so we're not going to sack him now," he insisted.

Saints will again be without two key forwards, Keiron Cunningham and Chris Joynt, for their third game in eight days. By contrast, London, who have signed Russell Bowden for the third time and expect him to arrive on Tuesday, have had two weeks to prepare and have spent four days in an army camp, so they should have a distinct edge in freshness.

The Bradford captain, Robbie Paul, has appealed to Bulls' fans to be patient with Iestyn Harris when he makes his debut against Wakefield tomorrow.

Harris will attract huge attention as he plays his first game of rugby league for three years, either at stand-off or possibly starting on the bench.

"He's got rugby league coursing through his veins,: said Paul. "He's pure class, but it's going to take some time to get him back into the swing of things." Trinity could also have a debutant, with the Australian prop, Duncan MacGillivray, having arrived from France, and have Olivier Elima and Justin Ryder fit again as they try to build on last week's win over St Helens.

The Canberra and Kiwi Test forward Ruben Wiki, has turned down a big offer from Wigan, and will instead return to his homeland on a three-year deal with the New Zealand Warriors. Wigan could now switch their attentions to another vastly experienced Kiwi forward, Melbourne's Stephen Kearney.

For their game at Salford, Wigan have the Great Britain winger, Brian Carney, back in their squad for the first time since breaking his ankle, but his comeback could be delayed by a week. Bryn Hargreaves, an 18-year-old prop, could be among the substitutes for the first time.

Hull, who go to Warrington, have failed to re-sign their Australian winger, Colin Best for another season. The 25-year-old, who has 36 tries from 51 games and has been an ever-present since joining them 18 months ago from Cronulla, wants to return to Australia at the end of the season. Best, whose contract runs out in November, could follow head coach Shaun McRae to South Sydney, but is also being linked with St George Illawarra, who are expected to lose centre Mark Gasnier to Wigan.

Warrington's Mark Hilton has become one of the few prop forwards to gain a first-class honours degree in maths. His team-mate Nat Wood has been ruled out of the match by ankle ligament damage.

Brandon Costin is back in sixth-placed Huddersfield's side after injury for their match at home to Widnes, who have Stuart Spruce in charge as caretaker-coach for the first time. The club's Australian centre, Aaron Moule, could be out for the season with a knee injury.

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