Gene and Watene ready for early Bradford debuts

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The Super League champions, Bradford, are to give debuts to two of their new signings in their first pre-season friendly.

Stanley Gene, the Papua New Guinea utility player, and Adam Watene, the prop forward from New Zealand, have been named in the Bulls' squad for the game at Warrington next Monday. Gene, signed from Huddersfield, has been lined up to play loose forward next season, while Bradford are looking to Watene, impressive in Castleford's promotion campaign, to freshen up their front row.

Only four players who figured in the Grand Final victory over Leeds have been included. The rest are youngsters hoping to make their mark next season, including the winger Dave Halley.

Saints have denied that Darren Albert could stay with them after all, despite being released to join the Australian club Cronulla. They also deny that Jason Hooper could be set to join their former assistant coach, Dave Rotheram, at Whitehaven. Hooper has been Saints' first-choice stand-off for the last three years, but they have allocated the No 6 shirt for next season to their new signing from Bradford, Leon Pryce.

Bradford's opponents in the World Club Challenge on 3 February have changed their travel arrangements to give themselves a better chance. Wests-Tigers had been booked on a 29-hour flight, but they have changed that and their hotel in Leeds.

"It can be tough winning over there in the best of circumstances," said their chief executive, Steve Noyce. "We want to make sure we are as competitive as possible."