Crusaders players in pledge to club's fans


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The Independent Online

Crusaders players will fulfil their fixtures – starting with Sunday's game at Wakefield – despite uncertainty about the future following their decision to pull out of Super League.

"We're definitely going to stick it out," said Lloyd White, one of the Welsh players the club has brought through. "We don't have to play for anyone else. We're playing for ourselves and the fans now."

The players' association has stepped in to try to minimise the damage to the careers of players thrown into limbo.

The Welsh club shocked the game – and not least their own playing staff – by withdrawing from the application process for a licence this week.

The Rugby League believes that most, if not all, of the players have a release clause in their contracts that effectively makes them free agents after this season. The deadline has passed for them to join other Super League clubs this year, but a number will be exploring possibilities for 2012.

Those looking elsewhere will be headed by the Leeds and Great Britain centre, Keith Senior, who signed a two-year contract earlier this month, but is now set to leave the club – possibly for Wakefield – without ever playing for them.

Crusaders had also agreed a new one-year deal with the former Welsh RU captain, Gareth Thomas, whose future in league is now uncertain.

The club's chief executive, Rod Findlay, has told a fans' forum that there are a series of options for the future. They could continue to play at Wrexham in the Championship or Championship 1, move to a new location or cease to exist completely.

Wakefield's escape from the Super League axe has left John Kear keen to extend his contract as coach. "I'd like to stay," he said. "It's a great club and now has the opportunity to progress."

Salford's joy at receiving a Super League licence has been tempered by the loss of their utility back, Stefan Ratchford, who is joining Warrington on a three-year contract.

"I'm very excited about working with Stefan," said the Warrington coach, Tony Smith. "He has shown what a talented young player he is for a number of years."

Wigan have confirmed that their Test prop, Stuart Fielden, will not play again this season after suffering a pectoral injury in training. Fielden has managed just one game this season following major knee surgery in the winter.