Leeds face semi-final selection headache after Ablett's ban

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The Independent Online

Carl Ablett will miss Leeds' Challenge Cup semi-final against St Helens on Saturday after being banned for three matches.

The back-row forward was placed on report for a late, high tackle on Wigan's Sam Tomkins in last Friday's game and was found guilty at a disciplinary hearing last night of reckless use of the forearm. With Ali Lauitiiti and Greg Eastwood already ruled out by injury, Ian Kirke is likely to be recalled for the match at the Galpharm Stadium, although Leeds have not announced whether they intend to appeal.

Saints have announced the signing of the England centre Michael Shenton from Castleford on a three-year contract. The St Helens chairman, Eamonn McManus, called him "one of the country's best rugby league talents."

Shenton, who turned down a new contract offer from Castleford last week, described it as "a real wrench" to leave his home-town club. "But St Helens promised an opportunity to develop my career at the highest level," he said. Shenton is a ready-made replacement for Matt Gidley, who is returning to Australia at season's end and is battling to be fit for the semi.

Simon Grix has been ruled out of Warrington's semi-final against the Catalan Dragons on Sunday after spending time in hospital with viral pneumonia.

The Salford half-back Jeremy Smith has been suspended for one match after being sent off at Crusaders on Sunday for using foul and abusive language to the referee. Australian loose forward, Luke Swain, is to leave Salford next season to play in France with Carcassonne.

Gareth Thomas has been included in the 48-strong Wales squad for the internationals at the end of this season. Thomas, who holds the record for rugby union caps for Wales, said that playing for Crusaders had awakened his desire to play at international level again.

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