Gleeson accepts Wolves challenge

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The Independent Online

The Days of big-money rugby league transfers were supposed to have gone, but they were back in style at Warrington Wolves yesterday as they unveiled the £200,000 signing of Martin Gleeson.

The Days of big-money rugby league transfers were supposed to have gone, but they were back in style at Warrington Wolves yesterday as they unveiled the £200,000 signing of Martin Gleeson.

The current regime of fixed-term contracts has virtually made transfer fees obsolete, but Warrington's audacious raid for the St Helens and Great Britain centre has revived the drama of days gone by.

"Martin was not available, but we made our move, we made it very strongly, and we got our man," said the Warrington coach, Paul Cullen.

Gleeson is serving four-month suspension by the Rugby League for betting against Saints, but he becomes a Warrington player immediately.

He is now on their payroll, whereas Saints had made the decision not to pay him while he was unable to play.

Apart from that soothing detail, Warrington still had to persuade Gleeson to make the move. "He obviously would take some convincing to leave a club as successful as St Helens," said Cullen. "It was a big sell and now we have to live up to it."

The 24-year-old Gleeson, arguably the best right centre in the country, said the whole business had come as a complete surprise to him. "They sold the club to me on their plans for the next few years," he said. "My brother's here and we've never played on the same team so there were a few factors that brought me to Warrington."

Gleeson, who has agreed a four-year contract, will form an exciting wing combination with the Kiwi international, Henry Fa'afili. Fa'afili could arrive as early as next week, but Gleeson will only be able to watch him and try to build up his own fitness in the hopes of making the Great Britain team when his ban runs out at the end of the domestic season.

"If we broke the ice with Henry Fa'afili, we've shattered it by capturing Martin Gleeson," said Cullen who would probably not have been able to do so without the recent investment of the pop mogul, Simon Moran, who is now the club's majority shareholder.

Saints say that they already have a replacement for Gleeson earmarked, and that they have not sold him to service their debt.

"We have brought the debt down from £4m to £800,000 and will show a profit this year, so we didn't need to do that," said their chairman, Eamonn McManus.

"It was a commercial deal, a very good offer for a player we thought we could afford to lose."

Although the club is not saying so, anger at Gleeson for being involved in the betting scam that led to his suspension was another factor in deciding that he could leave.

John Kear has been confirmed as the new coach of Hull, on a two-year contract starting next season.

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