Leeds give Botham place in second row

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The Independent Online

Liam Botham will make a second start to his rugby league career with Leeds tonight - as a second-row forward.

Liam Botham will make a second start to his rugby league career with Leeds tonight - as a second-row forward.

The bearer of one of the most famous names in British sport played one game for the Rhinos on the wing last season, but has impressed the club's coaching staff in the pack for the academy team this year and has been told he will play at Salford this evening.

"He has earned his chance in the first team," said the Leeds coach, Tony Smith.

With Danny Ward joining Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Matt Adamson on the injured list, Smith also adds Wayne McDonald, Dwayne Barker and the prolific but out-of-favour winger, Mark Calderwood, to his squad. Vinny Myler, the prop on loan from Bradford, could make his debut for Salford.

Thursday's win over Bradford - their first for almost two years - has put Leeds clear at the top of Super League. Earlier today, the two teams immediately behind them meet at Odsal, where St Helens are the visitors.

The Saints coach, Ian Millward, says that he will have two of his long-term absentees, Martin Gleeson and Tim Jonkers, available to face Bradford, who expect to have Lee Radford back.

Today's programme also includes a dress rehearsal for Saturday's Challenge Cup semi-final between Wigan and Warrington. The Wolves will be bitterly disappointed by their display in their defeat by Widnes on Good Friday and their coach, Paul Cullen, has to decide whether to continue to rest Lee Briers, whose finger injury is causing some concern.

Widnes hope to prove the contention of their coach, Neil Kelly, that once one win comes others will follow, when they host Hull today, whilst Huddersfield's Jon Sharp says that his side will have to improve on their form against Salford if they are to win at Wakefield.

Today also marks the start of the newly-sponsored, semi-professional National Leagues, with Leigh's trip to Whitehaven the obvious highlight. Leigh are the favourites to win promotion to Super League, but 'Haven are undefeated in the Arriva Trains Cup.

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