Gleeson and Long set for tough test of nerve

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Although their coach, Ian Millward, has been trying to play down its significance, St Helens' second Super League meeting of the season with Bradford at Knowsley Road today can hardly avoid carrying extra resonance.

Although their coach, Ian Millward, has been trying to play down its significance, St Helens' second Super League meeting of the season with Bradford at Knowsley Road today can hardly avoid carrying extra resonance.

On Easter Monday Saints took a reserve-strength side to Odsal and were duly thrashed. The repercussions are still echoing through the game, with Sean Long and Martin Gleeson facing charges that they placed bets against their own side before the match. The two players, both in outstanding form of late, will have a better idea of their fate soon, when the Rugby League's disciplinary commissioner tells them if and when they will face a formal hearing.

Everything points to that hearing taking place some time next month and, while nobody expect the life bans which have been mooted in some quarters, one way of putting Long and Gleeson off their game might be to whisper the name of Ed Giddins into their ears. Giddins is the former Surrey cricketer banned this week for five years on a similar charge of betting against his own side. The St Helens Two are not playing as though the comparison has occurred to them.

One certainty is that Saints will look rather stronger today than they did on 12 April, although Millward will have to replace Keith Mason, who is serving a two-match ban for a high tackle, and also has a doubt over Keiron Cunningham.

Bradford, just above Saints in second place on points difference, will give late fitness tests to Robbie Paul and Michael Withers. Karl Pratt has played in the Under-21s this week following his shoulder operation.

In tomorrow's only Super League match, the former Canberra centre James Evans could make his debut for Huddersfield against Wakefield, provided he recovers from jet-lag from his flight from Australia this week.

The most intriguing match in Sunday's National League One programme is at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, where Oldham take their fixture against Batley to the seaside whilst Boundary Park is being reseeded. Bryn Powell, the former Hunslet winger on loan from Salford, is in line to make his debut for Batley.

For Monday lunchtime's Super League game at Hull, Widnes are likely to call upon two of their teenagers, with Stephen Myler coming in at scrum-half and Phil Wood standing in at hooker for Shane Millard, who has had knee surgery.

Comments