Hape and Tony called up for Kiwis' defence of Tri-Nations

Hull's star player, Paul Cooke, was yesterday ordered to undertake 100 hours of community service after pleading guilty to assault.

The 25-year-old's court appearance came before the most important match in the club's Super League history, tomorrow's final eliminator against the defending champions, Bradford, at the KC Stadium.

Hull say the court hearing and subsequent sentence, which has been deferred for six months, will not affect Cooke's appearance against the Bulls.

It is thought that Cooke decided to admit the two assault charges, which arose out of an incident in Hull city centre in December 2005, after entering into a plea bargain.

In a statement the club said: "We understand from remarks made in court that Paul's behaviour was totally out of character and the incident was instigated by others. None the less, Paul has accepted that his behaviour was unacceptable and not the standard expected of him.

"Paul wishes to apologise for the embarrassment he has caused. Hull FC will continue to do all we can to ensure that our players are continually aware of their responsibilities."

Hull are guaranteed their biggest crowd of the season for tomorrow's final eliminator after announcing pre-match ticket sales of more than 14,000.

Shontayne Hape, of Bradford, and Hull's Motu Tony, who will be on opposite sides tomorrow, were reunited yesterday in the New Zealand squad for the defence of their Tri-Nations Series title. Hape and Tony are joined by the St Helens prop Jason Cayless and Wakefield's David Solomona. Cayless will not be available for the opening game, against Australia in Auckland on 14 October, because it clashes with the Super League Grand Final.

The former Australia Test loose forward Shaun Timmins, whose move to Castleford collapsed when the Tigers were relegated from Super League, has announced his retirement because of a chronic knee injury.

Fiji scored a try two minutes from full-time to beat Tonga 30-28 in a World Cup qualifier in Sydney to keep alive their hopes of reaching the 2008 main draw.

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