Leeds left short after Ablett loses appeal

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The Independent Online

The Leeds forward Carl Ablett has failed in his bid to play in tomorrow's Challenge Cup semi-final against St Helens.

Ablett was placed on report for reckless use of the forearm on Sam Tomkins in the Super League match against Wigan, cited on video evidence and suspended this week for three matches. An RFL appeals tribunal decided last night that the sentence should stand, leaving the Rhinos' coach, Brian McClennan, without three back-rowers as he juggles his resources for their biggest game of the season so far. Ian Kirke has been recalled to their squad, along with the hooker, Matt Diskin.

Saints have the recently-injured three-quarters, Matt Gidley and Jonny Lomax, back in their squad.

Vinnie Anderson, the Kiwi international forward who could be in Warrington's side to play Catalan Dragons in the second semi-final at Widnes on Sunday, is joining Salford on a two-year contract next season. Salford have also re-signed the Australian centre, Mark Henry, for another year.

Chris Nero, who this week turned down a new deal at Bradford, is also joining the City Reds, on a three-year contract, but Jamie Langley has agreed a three-year extension with Bradford.

England are to play the New Zealand Maori in Auckland a week before the start of the Four Nations tournament this autumn. The game is at the Mt Smart Stadium on 16 October, as half of a double-header featuring New Zealand playing Samoa.

"We have made a slow start in our last two international tournaments and this match gives us the opportunity to ensure we hit the ground running," said the England coach, Steve McNamara.

England will field a full-strength side including players involved in the Grand Final two weeks earlier and those based in Australia. Other players are expected to have been called upon for the squad's other warm-up game, against Cumbria on 3 October – a fund-raiser for the family of Garry Purdham, the former professional with Whitehaven and Workington who was shot dead earlier this year.

The Maori side will be made up of players from Super League and Australia's NRL. "The New Zealand Maori Rugby League is excited by the opportunity to take the field against England," said its chairman Howie Tamati.

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