Fittler pitches for lucrative deal

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The Independent Online

Super League clubs will have to break the bank to have a hope of enticing Brad Fittler, the former Australian Test captain, to Britain.

Fittler's manager, Wayne Beavis, is touting his man around clubs at a massive £280,000 a season, after the breakdown of contract negotiations with the Sydney Roosters. That would make him by far the best-paid player in England, but no one has appeared interested in that sort of outlay, with Wigan emphatically ruling themselves out.

Fittler's more likely option would be to rejoin his first professional club, Penrith, whose ambition was again illustrated this week by their admission that they would like to prise Paul Sculthorpe away from St Helens.

Fittler's former Roosters team-mate, Quentin Pongia, will make his debut for Wigan against against Castleford tonight. Pongia, the former New Zealand Test captain, will make his first appearance via the bench against the side who thought they had signed him before he opted for a short-term deal at Wigan.

The hosts will also have Paul Johnson back from injury in the centres, with Gareth Hock dropping to substitute.

In tonight's other Super League match, Bradford will aim to avoid the ignominy of losing a third home game in a row when they face Saints. "I'm not as worried about the results as I am about starting to play well again,'' the Bulls' coach, Brian Noble, said.

Ben Westwood could play his first game for Warrington since breaking his leg in April, against Huddersfield tomorrow. Westwood has been back in training for two weeks, but his coach, Paul Cullen, still has to decide whether to throw him straight into the first team or give him a run in the Under-21s.

Huddersfield's Welsh international winger, Hefin O'Hare, has pledged his future to the club for another year, agreeing a contract extension to the end of the 2004 season.

London Broncos have loaned a third player from Leeds after learning that their loose forward, Mat Toshack, faces up to six weeks out with a broken leg. The Broncos have moved to bring in Jason Netherton after scans confirmed fears that Toshack had sustained a break after a fall in training last week.

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