Deacon replaces Harris as Bradford captain

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Bradford have appointed Paul Deacon to replace his half-back partner, Iestyn Harris, as captain. Harris has been stripped of the role after just one season. "Obviously, it's a little bit disappointing, but Steve McNamara said he wanted to go that way and I've got to move on," he said. "The most important thing for me is to do my talking on the pitch."

McNamara, the Bulls' coach, paid tribute to the efforts of Harris last season, when the Welshman was involved in a still unresolved legal battle between Bradford and Leeds. "Iestyn did a great job for me under difficult circumstances last season, but I want him to be the best player he can be by concentrating on his own game," he said.

Deacon, the former Great Britain scrum-half, said he was surprised but honoured by the appointment. "I haven't spoken to Iestyn about it, but hopefully it won't affect our partnership," he said.

Hull KR have suspended Michael Smith and left him out of their pre-season training after he reported unfit and overweight. Smith has been told to train on his own. Salford's full-back, Karl Fitzpatrick, will miss the first two months of the season after tearing his Achilles tendon in training.