Kearney misses first test of season for Hull

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The Independent Online

Hull have left their big new signing, Stephen Kearney, out of their squad for their Super League opener against Leeds on Friday night. The New Zealand Test forward damaged a chest muscle in the gym a month ago and has not recovered in time to make his debut against the champions at the KC Stadium.

Hull have left their big new signing, Stephen Kearney, out of their squad for their Super League opener against Leeds on Friday night. The New Zealand Test forward damaged a chest muscle in the gym a month ago and has not recovered in time to make his debut against the champions at the KC Stadium.

"Stephen is not quite fit and I'm not prepared to risk players who are not quite fit," said Hull's new coach, John Kear, who is also without Richard Whiting.

However, Kear is able to name his other major overseas signing, the Australian winger, Nathan Blacklock, to face the Rhinos. Leeds add Liam Botham, Wayne McDonald and the young full-back, Lee Smith, to the side that beat Canterbury to become World Club champions last Friday.

Yesterday was the first time that coaches were required to name their squads 72 hours before their fixtures, with Wigan's Denis Betts including five young reserves - James Coyle, Bryn Hargreaves, Bob Beswick, David Allen and Harrison Hansen - in his 20 to take on Salford.

Wigan are without the long-term injury victims, Andy Farrell and Luke Davico, and will not complete the signing of the French forward, Jerome Guisset, until he returns from a sevens tournament in New Zealand.

David Vaealiki, Dennis Moran and Jerry Seuseu will all make their Wigan debuts. The game will see a quick return to the JJB Stadium for Luke Robinson and David Hodgson, both released to join the City Reds at the end of last season.

"We played them three weeks ago in a friendly and that was a bit strange," Robinson said, "but as soon as the whistle goes you forget who you're playing." The 20-year-old scrum-half insists he has no grudge against Wigan, despite being discarded after playing with them from the age of 11.

"I still live near the ground and hang around with some of the Wigan lads," he said. "I want them to do well."

The Salford coach, Karl Harrison, is without his main overseas acquisition, Junior Langi, who has a quad muscle injury, but says Hodgson's form in training has been outstanding.

Jamie Lyon and Paul Anderson will make their debuts for St Helens at home to Widnes, whose newcomers could include five ex-Wigan players and the former South Sydney half-back, Owen Craigie.

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