Catalans’ key signing could miss rest of season

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The Independent Online

The Catalan Dragons fear that they could have lost Jason Ryles, their key signing for 2009, for the season after he suffered an injury in his first match.

The Australian Test prop was forced off during the defeat by Huddersfield last weekend with a damaged shoulder, although he was able to return later.

The initial estimate was that he could be out for three matches, but the position now looks far worse. “It’s a huge worry,” Kevin Walters, the Dragons’ coach, admitted. “He’s got to go back and have some more scans in a couple of weeks.

“It looks like nerve damage, so he’s out indefinitely. The worst-case scenario is six months.”

That would be a major blow to a club which exceeded all expectations by finishing third in Super League last season and is looking for its first win of the new campaign away to Warrington tonight.

The Dragons’ chairman, Bernard Guasch, has described the signing of Ryles, 30, the former St George Illawarra front-rower, as their greatest achievement.

They are already without Sébastien Raguin, the French second-rower, for an estimated six months after knee reconstruction surgery, although their hooker, Casey McGuire, could be fit to face the Wolves after suffering a rib injury against Huddersfield.

Warrington are another side looking for their first win, after losing a 14-point lead against St Helens last weekend. A back-line reshuffle sees Martin Gleeson return at the expense of Kevin Penny, while Vinnie Anderson could return to the pack after illness.

It is a big day in the short history of the Celtic Crusaders as they host their first home game in Super League, with Hull as their visitors.

The Welsh side have shown some encouraging attacking form in their defeats at Leeds and Salford, especially in the second half of both matches, but need to get away to a more convincing start if they are to have a chance today.

There are major doubts about their scrum-half and captain, Jace Van Dijk, as well as the Papua New Guinea forward, Jason Chan.

As closely scrutinised as the scoreline will be the attendance that the occasion attracts to Bridgend’s Brewery Field, but Hull are expecting to have to battle through a partisan atmosphere.

“We expect it to be an emotional night,” Richard Agar, the Hull coach, said. “It is creating a piece of history, but what we have to guard against is getting carried away with it.”

Agar is likely to field the same starting team that beat Wigan last weekend, with Dominic Maloney in line to make his debut from the bench.

The executive chairman of the Rugby League, Richard Lewis, has been appointed chair of Sport England. He will work two days a week at his new job and three with the RFL.