Hlad and Catic join Castleford's basement battle

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The Independent Online

Castleford have signed two Australian forwards to help their fight to escape from last place in Super League. The Penrith prop or second-row, Brendan Hlad, has joined the club for the rest of the season and goes straight into the squad to play at the Catalan Dragons tomorrow.

The former Wakefield front-rower, Ned Catic, has also agreed a deal for the rest of the year, but the paperwork has not gone through quickly enough to enable him to play for Cas this weekend.

Catic spent two seasons with Wakefield and has just completed a season captaining Lyons in the French domestic competition.

Wakefield have taken the Hull back-rower, Matty Dale, on a month's loan. He goes straight into the squad to play Harlequins tomorrow, along with Damien Blanch, who has been out injured all season.

Wigan have refused to comment on reports from Australia that their stand-off Trent Barrett could ask for an early release from his three-year contract with the club. The player's agent, Wayne Beavis, has hinted that Barrett wants to go home at the end of this, his second season with Wigan.

"It is for family reasons that Trent might be looking at coming home," Beavis said. "I've spoken to Wigan's management and told them that he has a family issue and plans to come to them to discuss it." The Wigan chairman, Ian Lenagan, declined to say whether that conversation had yet taken place.

Barrett has missed Wigan's last four games after minor knee surgery, but is due back in their side at Bradford on Sunday. He would have no shortage of takers back home, with his old club, St George-Illawarra, and Canterbury leading the hunt.

Wigan are due to resume talks about a new contract with their coach, Brian Noble, today. Noble, whose original two-and-a-half year deal runs out at the end of this season, has already said that he wants to stay and Wigan, while playing their cards close to their chest, are likely to ask him to do so. "Brian is a very important person as far as Wigan are concerned," Lenagan said.