Hammond back on track at Halifax

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The Independent Online

Two Welsh internationals, Karle Hammond and Ian Watson, have been given a fresh chance in Super League. Hammond, the former Great Britain tourist whose career appeared to be in free fall last season, has signed a one-year deal with Halifax.

Hammond began his career as a clever, ball-handling stand-off with his home-town club, Widnes, before enjoying success at St Helens. A move to the London Broncos turned sour after one good year and stints at Salford and back with Widnes last season failed to revive his fortunes.

"Halifax have given me a great chance to get my Super League career back on track," said the 27-year-old Hammond, who may be used predominantly as a loose forward.

Watson, who shone in last year's World Cup, has re-joined his original club, Salford, on a 12-month deal, four years after leaving The Willows. The scrum-half dropped down a division to play for Swinton, before joining Widnes last season.

He will now provide back-up for Salford's existing half-backs – Bobbie Goulding, Graham Holroyd and Steve Blakeley – as he tries to prove himself at Super League level.

The England World Cup prop, Francis Stephenson, who is being released by Wigan, has had offers from Castleford, Widnes and London.

Castleford have put two of their young players – the scrum-half, Adam Thaler, and the front-rower, Glen Spedding – on full-time contracts for the coming season. The pair are both 18 and are being groomed for futures in the first team.

The former Australian Test forward, Bradley Clyde, formerly of Leeds, has turned down an offer to join the coaching staff at the ACT Brumbies, in order to stay in rugby league and coach the under-19s at his old club, Canterbury-Bankstown.

Hunslet's Lee Bargate has been suspended for one match for a reckless high tackle in the opening Northern Ford Premiership fixture against Hull KR.