Gilmour and Hooper sign two-year deals at Saints

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The Independent Online

The Great Britain international Lee Gilmour has signed a new two-year contract with the Super League leaders, St Helens, that will keep him at Knowsley Road until the end of the 2008 season.

The 28-year-old former Wigan and Bradford second-rower has made 76 appearances since joining Saints from the Bulls at the end of the 2003 season.

"I'm really glad to be staying at Saints," he said. "I've been here for three years and am looking forward to a successful finish to this season and hopefully a few more."

St Helens have also given a new two-year deal to Jason Hooper, which represents a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the 28-year-old Australian stand-off or loose forward. The 28-year-old looked to be on his way out of Knowsley Road last year when he was, initially, not offered a new contract.

Hooper was set to join Salford before being belatedly given a 12-month deal and has since enjoyed a new lease of life, playing in 34 of the last 37 League matches.

"I'd like to thank St Helens for having faith in me last year, especially after my injury, and for showing that faith again with the new deal," he said.

The former St George Illawarra playmaker, who is one of the club's three overseas players, is just four appearances away from bringing up his century for the club. Gilmour and Hooper have followed Willie Talau and Nick Fozzard in committing their futures to the League leaders.

The Saints chief executive, Sean McGuire, said: "When we signed Lee we knew we were getting one of Great Britain's best players and we have not been disappointed.

"Jason is one of Super League's most underrated players and the description of him as a utility player does little to describe his talent and value.

"They are both very important players for us and we are delighted to have retained their services.

"In following Willie Talau and Nick Fozzard in committing their futures to the club, it is a strong endorsement of our current standards and future ambitions at the Saints."