Festive cheer for Leeds' starlet Hall

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The Independent Online

Leeds' latest starlet, Ryan Hall, has been given a double dose of encouragement for next season.

The 20-year-old winger, who made nine appearances in the Rhinos' successful Super League campaign this year, has been given a one-year extension to his existing contract, taking him to 2009. Hall has also been told he will play in the Festive Challenge against Wakefield on Boxing Day, giving him an early opportunity to stake his claim.

"We have lots of quality on the wing, but the guys who play on Boxing Day have the first chance to impress," Hall said.

South Sydney, who play Leeds in Florida in January, have become the first Australian club to get rid of gaming machines from their licensed club.

Souths' co-owner, the actor Russell Crowe, has persuaded the board to ditch the one-armed bandits, which bring in over Aus $1m (400,000) a year, because of his concerns about gambling addiction.

Kicking out the slot machines is the second radical move for which Crowe has been responsible since taking over the ailing club last year.

He has also got rid of scantily-clad cheerleaders, following complaints from women spectators, including his wife.

Crowe and his business partner, Peter Holmes à Court, say they want to create a family atmosphere.

Jack Bateman, a former chairman and president of the Rugby Football League, has died at the age of 92. He was also chairman of Swinton for 10 years from the mid-1970s.

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