Bulls recall Cook but lose Hape as Kiwi swaps codes

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The Independent Online

Bradford have recalled Matt Cook from his loan spell at Castleford. The 21-year-old forward had been with the Tigers since 9 April but he will now make an immediate return to the Grattan Stadium.

Bulls coach, Steve McNamara, said: "It was always our intention to bring Matt back to the Bulls when the time was right and we feel that the time is now. Matthew is a very valuable member of our first-team squad and he will come into contention for this weekend's Carnegie Challenge Cup quarter-final against Hull FC."

As Cook was coming in, Shontayne Hape was on his way out, having been released from his contract early, so that he can switch to union with Bath.

Since arriving from the New Zealand Warriors in 2003, Hape has scored 83 tries in 131 appearances, and Bradford would now love to make a signing to compensate for his loss, but centres of his calibre are not plentiful.

Hape is the first major defection from league to union since his Bradford team-mate, Lesley Vainikolo, joined Gloucester midway through last season. Since then, The Volcano has won five England caps and, like him, Hape qualifies for his adopted country through residency.

To make matters worse, the Bulls expect to be without Vainikolo's successor, Semi Tadulala, and Chris Nero for long periods.

Hape's decision will be a blow to New Zealand too with this being World Cup year as the player, with 14 caps so far, would have been part of their plans for the tournament.

McNamara said: "Shontayne is a fantastic player and he has been a great servant to Bradford Bulls. He will be a big loss to us, but I fully understand his position.

"Everyone has big decisions to make at certain stages of their careers and Shontayne is at a crossroads and has decided to follow a certain path."

St Helens reclaimed second place in Super League on Sunday night after holding off battling Hull 16-8 at the KC Stadium and Saints coach Daniel Anderson admitted his side had been in a battle.

"They showed a good attitude – we made a lot of breaks but we must have got stopped on the last tackle or near the line on 10 occasions," he said. "That showed their commitment. We were disjointed in attack but defensively we were awesome. It was a tough game.

"We had to make a lot of tackles on our line and we made a lot of errors."