Kear draws on reserves as Hull put contract on hold

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The Independent Online

John Kear will try to stop Hull's slide at Bradford tonight with the club still insisting that they will not talk to him about a new contract until the end of May.

Kear's prospects seemed to improve this week when Brian Smith, widely tipped for a return to Hull, opted instead for a three-year contract with the Newcastle Knights, starting in 2007.

"That's a bit of a red herring," said Hull's chief executive, David Plummer. "We never had any contact with Brian and people read too much into him being available." The club, however, are refusing to banish doubts over Kear's future.

At Odsal tonight, they will be without Shayne McMenemy, Richard Swain and Ewan Dowes, with Kear drafting three young reserves, Kirk Dixon, Scott Wheeldon and Danny Hill, into his squad.

Bradford will be without Brad Meyers for three months with a knee injury, but could welcome back Lesley Vainikolo, who scored a Super League record six tries against Hull last September.

Another side who need to find some form are Wigan, whose coach, Ian Millward, will leave it late before deciding whether to give Bryan Fletcher his debut, two months after major bowel surgery. Their captain, Sean O'Loughlin, is back after missing last week's defeat at Salford.

Wigan's opponents Warrington have dropped Danny Lima after a 50-match run, with Rob Parker and Logan Swann coming back into the squad.

The Catalan Dragons have been given permission to play their match against Castleford on 8 April in Carcassonne. The game had been scheduled for Figueres in north-eastern Spain, but the Dragons have agreed to provide free coaches for Castleford fans who have already booked accommodation in Spain.