Clubs look for union links

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The Independent Online

Super League clubs, beset by rumours that some of their number are contemplating a switch to rugby union, will look for opportunities to expand into union areas, if they follow the recommendations of a report to be published next month.

The eagerly-awaited strategic review of the game's future will revive the prospect of pushing into new territory – by inviting leading union clubs to field league sides during the summer months.

That runs against the grain of the current climate in the two codes, but the framers of the review believe that it is one way for league to seize back the initiative from union.

Significantly, the review will not oppose Super League clubs running union sides on their grounds – as Leeds and St Helens are already doing – but it sees it strictly as an addition to a club's rugby league activities, not a replacement.

Peter Wheeler, the chief executive of Leicester, who have themselves dabbled in league, suggested earlier this week that some Super League clubs would consider a full-time change of codes, but that is not an attitude that has been revealed during the process of putting the report together.

The review, which will be ready to be unveiled in three or four weeks' time, will also make wide-ranging proposals for the restructuring of the game, with a move back to three divisions widely predicted.

Wigan have their prop forward, Terry O'Connor, back in action tonight for the home game against his former club, Salford. O'Connor has been out for a month, since badly breaking his nose in a collision with his team-mate, Neil Cowie, in the match against St Helens.

With Adrian Lam still injured, the Wigan coach, Stuart Raper, switches Matthew Johns to scrum-half, with Chris Chester coming in at stand-off.

Salford will welcome back at least one of their recent absentees in Damien Driscoll, with Graham Holroyd and Darren Brown also facing fitness tests that could see them return as well.

The former Wigan winger Martin Offiah is a doubtful starter after taking a knock to the head in the defeat by Halifax last week. Danny Arnold, who scored a hat-trick after coming on as his replacement, would continue to deputise.

The London Broncos also have a player coming back for their fixture at Warrington tomorrow, with Mat Toshack resuming after a six-week absence with knee trouble.

Warrington's New Zealand centre, David Kidwell, could be out for the rest of the season after tearing a calf muscle. He is replaced in tomorrow's team by Toa Kohe-Love.

St Helens will have Peter Shiels back against Halifax on Sunday night, after recovering from flu, but Anthony Stewart will lose his ever-present record.