Gidley and Smith face Bradford's twin peaks

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Two inexperienced and virtually unknown wingers have the task of tackling Bradford's twin peaks in the World Club Challenge on Friday night.

With Adam MacDougal and Timana Tahu injured, the Newcastle Knights coach, Michael Hagan, has named Josh Smith and Kurt Gidley as his wingmen to face the Bulls, who will unleash Tevita Vaikona and Lesley Vainikolo on them at the McAlpine Stadium.

"They've got their work cut out,'' admitted Hagan, "but they've got some pretty handy guys inside them.'' In Gidley's case, that includes his brother, the Australian Test centre, Matthew. "It's too early to put Kurt in that same bracket, but the next 12 months will show what he can do,'' said Hagan.

Smith, yet to play a first-team game for the Knights, will have the job of marking the newly-arrived Vainikolo.

Bradford's Brian Noble has not yet named his team, but the indications are that he will start with Robbie Paul and Paul Deacon at half-back.

Noble has played down suggestions that Henry Paul could be on his way back to the club following his fall-out with Gloucester. "I'd be foolish not to think about Henry if he was available,'' he said. "But my opinion is that he will move to another rugby union club, where he is more challenged.''

Wigan have pulled their Great Britain centre, Gary Connolly, out of his rugby union commitments with Orrell to play against Hull in Andy Farrell's testimonial match tonight – a game which will be a dress rehearsal for the Challenge Cup tie between the two sides.

Wigan will host Hull on 9 February and their coach, Stuart Raper, is anxious for Connolly to have a run-out against the same opposition. "Gary will definitely play next week so I want him to have 20 or 25 minutes,'' he said.

The Wigan-Hull encounter at 1.15pm will be the first part of a BBC double-header on 9 February, with Bradford and Leeds kicking off at 3pm.

Rugby league has been added to the range of sports available to schools under the TOP Sport Programme. Under the scheme, schools taking up the game will get equipment and training from the Youth Sports Trust. "It is vital that young people have a chance to try rugby league at the earliest moment in their sporting development,'' said the Great Britain coach, David Waite.

Comments