Harris completing his move to union

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Iestyn Harris will officially be unveiled as a rugby union player today after completing a world-record move from rugby league.

The Welsh Rugby Union have called a news conference at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to formally announce the capture of the Leeds Rhinos and Great Britain stand-off in a deal thought to be worth £2m.

Harris will quit rugby league immediately after the WRU, in a joint deal with Cardiff, agreed to pay Leeds around £850,000 in compensation in return for releasing the player from the two years remaining on his contract.

"Naturally we are disappointed to be losing Iestyn," said the Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington. "He has been a terrific servant to the club and to the game, but we fully understand his desire to continue his career with the Welsh Rugby Union and Cardiff. We have tried to negotiate a deal which will reflect his standing and ability in the game."

The four-year deal will break the transfer record set in 1996 when Newcastle Falcons paid Wigan £750,000 over five years for Inga Tuigamala. The Wales and British Lions coach Graham Henry and the WRU chairman Glanmor Griffiths will be at the news conference for what they term "an historic announcement."

Harris's move comes days after the St Helens hooker Keiron Cunningham's lucrative move to union with Swansea collapsed, which resulted in reports that the player had been unable to provide the WRU with his Welsh birth certificate. Suggestions that Harris might be suffering from similar problems were denied by Griffiths. "We are entirely happy about Iestyn's [Welsh] eligibility," he said. "He has provided us with all the documents we required."

Also joining union could be Shaun Edwards, the most successful player in league history. The 34-year-old Wigan legend has accepted an offer to join the coaching staff at Wasps. Edwards last week turned down the chance to become the head coach at the Super League club Warrington.

Castleford have added the Featherstone scrum-half Jamie Rooney to their squad on a short-term loan to cover injuries to their half-backs Danny Orr, Mitch Healey and Mark Lennon. They have also signed the St George-Illawarra hooker Wayne Bartrim on a two-year deal.

In the boardroom, Super League clubs have agreed to bring in an independent board of directors. The 12 club representatives unanimously backed a proposal by London Broncos to appoint directors without club affiliations by 21 December. Super League are hoping that the governing body, the Rugby Football League, will follow suit.

Wakefield have had their four-point penalty halved by the RFL with immediate effect. The outcome still leaves them battling with Huddersfield to avoid relegation from Super League.