Leeds renew legal feud with Harris over contract

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The Independent Online

The bitterness between Leeds and Bradford over Iestyn Harris is set to continue long after his first return to Headingley with his new club tomorrow.

The bitterness between Leeds and Bradford over Iestyn Harris is set to continue long after his first return to Headingley with his new club tomorrow.

The controversy over Harris's decision to resume his rugby league career, after three years in rugby union, with the Bulls rather than the Rhinos appeared to have died down this week when Leeds issued an apology for their allegations that Bradford had "coerced'' the player.

But Leeds have now served papers on Harris's solicitors, claiming breach of contract, and on Bradford's lawyers accusing them of inducing him to do so. The Bradford chairman, Chris Caisley, said that the allegations would be "strenuously defended".

Harris himself has tried to play down suggestions that there will be anything significant or highly charged about his return to a ground where he was such a hero. He might feel differently tomorrow night, but the vitriol could perhaps be diluted by the fact that Leeds are doing so well without him. Going into this weekend, they have a five-point lead over second-placed Hull with five matches to play. Only a major derailment can prevent them finishing in top spot for the first time since 1972.

Leeds will be without Danny McGuire's usual partner Andrew Dunemann, while Bradford could have Joe Vagana back to bolster their pack.

It is a significant weekend as well for the London Broncos, who looked until recently as though they could be celebrating their 10th anniversary under that name as a club destined for the National League and possible extinction.

Now, with seven points in the past month and a rumoured investment from a millionaire New Zealander, they suddenly look in rude health.

Even their stretched playing resources are starting to look healthier, with the former Parramatta second row Mal Kaufusi making his debut against Warrington tomorrow.

London's dramatic improvement has coincided with the arrival of Rohan Smith, the son of the former Hull and Bradford coach Brian, and the nephew of Leeds' Tony. The club captain, Steele Retchless, has urged London to keep him next season.

Salford, at Wakefield tomorrow, have signed the Wigan scrum-half Luke Robinson on a two-year contract, following a similar deal this week with his team-mate David Hodgson.

Castleford are at home to Hull, while Widnes are at Huddersfield and have Justin Murphy making his debut after arriving from the New Zealand Warriors.

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