Howard injury may end career

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The former Great Britain prop Harvey Howard will consider retirement if he cannot recover from a back injury in time for the start of the new season.

The 34-year-old ex-Widnes, Leeds and Wigan front-rower was troubled by disc problems during his first season with Hull Kingston Rovers. Now he has been told that he is unlikely to be fit before the start of the National League One campaign in April.

If he still cannot get back on to the field then, Howard, who was a candidate for Rovers' coaching job before they opted for a combination of Malcolm Reilly and Martin Hall, might call time on a playing career which has also included successful stints in Australia.

"I have to weigh my desire to play again against an injury which could potentially affect my quality of life," he said.

Rovers' neighbours, Hull, have denied that they are poised to loan two newly signed players, Richard Whiting and Andy Bailey, back to their previous club, Featherstone Rovers.

Hull signed Whiting, a highly rated young stand-off or centre, and Bailey, a powerful forward of great potential, for an undisclosed fee after sometimes difficult negotiations with Rovers, and admit that they have discussed the possibility of a "loan-back" arrangement. "Featherstone broached the subject during our negotiations and the matter was left open," Hull's coach, Shaun McRae, said. "But the question wasn't just about those two players. It was more open-ended than that and included the possibility of loaning other players. In principle, I'm not against it."

However, McRae said there was no possibility of Whiting and Bailey going straight back to Featherstone, as Hull are concentrating on preparing them for Super League.

Warrington's long-serving prop Mark Hilton is to start his benefit season with a testimonial match against Leigh at Wilderspool on Sunday.