Hand injury rules Long out of Test in Australia

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The Independent Online

Sean Long, the St Helens scrum-half, will be out of action for three months for surgery on a hand and will miss Great Britain's Test in Australia in July. Long damaged the hand against Wigan on Easter Monday and has been diagnosed with displaced bones, which need a pinning operation today.

Long played in the Challenge Cup final defeat by Wigan on Saturday, but was one of 12 players left out at Bradford the previous week – a selection for which Saints face a Rugby League tribunal next week.

"People say he should have played there – if they only knew," said Saints' coach, Ian Millward, who will also be without Sean Hoppe and Mick Higham against Halifax tonight. Barry Ward and Tim Jonkers will need fitness tests. Halifax have their own problems with a second winding-up order served on them by the Inland Revenue, who are demanding £200,000. The club hopes to release further money due to them from the sale of their old ground at Thrum Hall and to use it to pay the debt rather than to finance further building work at The Shay.

"Halifax Town don't need a 13,000 capacity stadium and neither do we," said the club's spokesman, Richard Hizzard. "There is no point having a brilliant stadium if there is no team to play there."

The Super League leaders, Bradford, will still be without Michael Withers at Castleford tonight, but Lesley Vainikolo, Robbie Paul and Daniel Gartner have a chance of returning. Cas have two of their most influential players, Danny Orr and Wayne Bartrim, back in action.

The bottom club, Warrington, have made a substantial cash offer for Leigh's record-breaking full-back, Neil Turley, who scored 55 tries last season. The Wolves, with just one win this season, are desperate for a new full-back, but Leigh's coach, Paul Terzis, said: "Ideally, we would like him to come up into Super League with us, but we have to look at the financial aspects and what the player himself wants. He will be the one who decides what he wants to do."

The Wigan prop, Ricky Bibey, has escaped serious injury in a car crash and has been cleared to play at Widnes tomorrow following a hospital check-up.

Phil Veivers has been appointed as the new coach of the struggling Northern Ford Premiership club, Swinton. The Australian had a long playing career at St Helens before being on the coaching staff at Huddersfield and playing for Swinton last season. "It's a tough task," Veivers said. "They have won just one game out of 14 this season and the results tell their own story."

Widnes' Neil Kelly has been named as the first Super League Coach of the Month of the season after his side won of their first eight matches in the top flight. Jason Smith, of Hull, has won the players' award, the first to do so twice, and has denied reports in Australia that he will join Cronulla next season.