Iro's new one-year deal

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The Independent Online

St Helens' New Zealand international centre, Kevin Iro, will sign a new contract today as the Super League leaders continue to build their squad for next season. Iro, now 32, has been in outstanding form this season and has been rewarded with a one-year deal, despite Saints' initial fears that they might not be able to match the generosity of his original contract.

St Helens' New Zealand international centre, Kevin Iro, will sign a new contract today as the Super League leaders continue to build their squad for next season. Iro, now 32, has been in outstanding form this season and has been rewarded with a one-year deal, despite Saints' initial fears that they might not be able to match the generosity of his original contract.

"He has certainly performed this year and he has earned a new contract," said the Saints football manager, Eric Hughes. "He wants to see for himself at the end of next season how he is feeling, but on current form there is every chance of him carrying on. With our half-backs playing the way they are, big centres like Kevin and Paul Newlove are a real threat. This contract will give our youngsters, like Tony Stewart and Steve Hall, time to develop."

Retaining Iro is a major boost for Saints, who will lose Apollo Perelini and Fereti Tuilagi to rugby union next season and have told other first-team squad members like Paul Atcheson, Chris Smith and Julian O'Neill that they should find new clubs. The future of Bryan Henare is also in doubt after the failure of the Kiwi second-rower to command a place during the first year of a two-year contract. Saints have already signed two Australian forwards for next season in David Fairleigh and Peter Shields from the Newcastle Knights.

Penrith's New Zealand forward, Tony Puletua, is set to miss this autumn's Lincoln World Cup after suffering spinal damage in two separate spear tackles during a match against the Canberra Raiders. Four Raiders faced disciplinary action over the incidents, but one of them, the Wigan-bound David Furner, has been found not guilty.

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