Leeds say they have first call on Harris

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The Independent Online

Leeds have warned other clubs that they will regard Iestyn Harris as their player when he returns to rugby league.

Leeds have warned other clubs that they will regard Iestyn Harris as their player when he returns to rugby league.

Harris has told the Welsh Rugby Union and his coach at the Cardiff Blues, David Young, that he wants to bring an end to his three-year exile and move back to the north of England. Bradford are strongly rumoured to be his preferred destination but the Rhinos, the club he left in August 2001, insist that his contract will see him revert to them if he comes back to league.

"There is a contract in place which was entered into at the outset by ourselves, Iestyn, his solicitor, the Welsh RU and Cardiff," said the Leeds chief executive, Gary Hetherington, yesterday. "It provides for Iestyn's return to Leeds Rhinos and we would be disappointed if any other rugby league club were attempting to frustrate this contract or indeed if Iestyn was to seek to renege on this agreement."

Hetherington said that he has been in contact with Harris's solicitor, but not with the player, who has gone on holiday. "At the moment, the situation is confusing and we are waiting to hear from Iestyn," he said. Cardiff are also seeking legal advice, but the WRU's chief executive, David Moffett, has described the deal which allows Harris to go back to Leeds without a fee as "the most bizarre contract I have ever seen in my life".

Leeds have always expressed the hope that Harris, now 28, would return, but the recent signing of the New Zealand forward Ali Lauitiiti could make it impossible to pay Harris what he would want and keep within the salary cap. Bradford have refused to confirm their interest, but are thought to be willing to unload one or more players in order to accommodate Harris. "It is pure speculation," said their spokesman, Stuart Duffy.

Wigan are ready to offer a new contract to their Australian winger, Brett Dallas, despite clubs in the National Rugby League trying to lure him back to his homeland, while the former Gateshead and Wigan scrum-half, Willie Peters, is the subject of renewed interest from Widnes after being released by South Sydney. The Vikings see Peters as a potential answer to their problem in the position, but their overseas quota is currently full and he would need an exemption, based on his Greek ancestry.

Halifax's caretaker coach, Anthony Farrell, has threatened to quit as both coach and player following their defeat by the National League Two club York in the quarter-finals of the Arriva Trains Cup.

The Salford prop Neil Baynes has been called to appear before a disciplinary hearing today on a charge of illegal use of the knees in the match against Huddersfield last weekend. Warrington's Paul Wood has been told he has no case to answer over biting allegations from his club's game at Widnes.