Bulls dismiss injury fears over Vainikolo

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The Independent Online

Bradford and Lesley Vainikolo have dismissed suggestions that Super League's leading try scorer last season could miss the first half of this campaign with a new flare-up of knee trouble.

Vainikolo, who scored 32 times in the competition last year, missed Sunday's season opener at Wakefield, but the Bulls insist that there is no serious problem. "It is all nonsense," said the club's football secretary, Stuart Duffy, of the reports of a lengthy lay-off. "It isn't even the same knee that he had the operation on and he could even play this week against Harlequins."

Vainikolo himself was equally optimistic. "If I don't play this week, I'll play next week," he said.

Bradford are unlikely to take any action against their Great Britain prop, Stuart Fielden, over his reaction when he was substituted towards the end of the Wakefield game. Fielden, who prides himself on being able to play the full 80 minutes, as he did against Wests Tigers in the World Club Challenge the previous weekend, reacted angrily when hauled off by his coach, Brian Noble, after 69 minutes of a relatively muted performance.

"We will have a look at it, but it doesn't seem that there is too much to worry about," Duffy said. "Stuart reacted to someone on our bench. It wasn't dissent towards the coach."

The Catalan Dragons' eye-catching second-rower, Jamal Fakir, has been given the go ahead to play, despite getting on the wrong side of the referee in his side's opening day victory over Wigan on Saturday. Fakir was placed on report by Ashley Klein for one tackle on Wayne Godwin and sent to the sin bin for another, but the Rugby League has ruled that he has no case to answer.

That frees Fakir to play in the next phase of the French club's introduction to Super League - the away fixtures at Salford and Castleford.

It could now be next month before the Catalans have a permanent head coach in place. "There are three very good candidates and we would be lucky to get any one of them," said the club's chief executive, Grant Mayer. "There are two of them we can't split. All of them are currently employed and we're not going to rush anything."

Sonny Bill Williams, rated potentially the best player in the world after his performances for New Zealand in the Tri-Nations in 2004, will miss Canterbury's first six weeks of the NRL season in Australia with stress fractures of his feet.

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