Franze's departure shakes Castleford

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Castleford, struggling to hang on to their place in Super League, have suffered a double setback with the loss of two players. Aaron Smith had already told the Tigers that he wants to take a break from the game and now Paul Franze has walked out after just three games.

Franze, the experienced Australian centre, had signed on for the rest of this season after playing rugby union for London Irish, but has quickly changed his mind. "It came out of the blue," Castleford's spokesman, David Smart, said. "Paul rang our coach, Terry Matterson, and said he was finding it harder than he envisaged. "This was his third straight season of rugby and he feels he's struggling to come to terms with the rigours of back-to-back football."

Smith, the former Bradford hooker, was a regular in the Cas team which won promotion last year, but has made just two first-team appearances this time. He has decided to take time out to recharge his batteries.

Paul Deacon's ankle injury is not as serious as first feared, but he will miss Bradford's game against the Catalan Dragons on Friday night. The Bulls' scrum-half has strained ligaments.

Workington's Brett Smith has been banned for two years after testing positive for the banned substance, clenbuterol. At a Rugby League disciplinary hearing today Dewsbury's former Bradford and Salford forward Warren Jowitt faces a charge of spitting. Jowitt has already been fined £200 by his club for the incident in the National League Two match against Keighley.