Leeds take a chance on injured Watkins in Wembley squad
Teenage centre only rated 50/50 to be fit to face odds-on favourites Wigan in Challenge Cup final
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Friday 26 August 2011
Leeds have named their 19-year-old centre, Kallum Watkins, in their Challenge Cup final squad, despite a knee injury that put his Wembley place in doubt.
Watkins has been having treatment all week to try to get the swelling down, after twisting the joint at Harlequins last Saturday.
The Rhinos' coach, Brian McDermott, has included him despite only rating his chances at 50/50. Carl Ablett, who rolled his ankle in the same match, is a better prospect, while two other players with experience in the centres, Lee Smith and Brett Delaney, also travelled to London in the 19-strong squad yesterday.
As expected, Eamon O'Carroll and Stefan Marsh are the Wigan players from last week's squad to miss out on places in the 19 for Wembley.
O'Carroll played his first Super League game for 15 months against Bradford, while Marsh was 18th man. Brett Finch, Andy Coley and Lee Mossop were all rested for that game, but are recalled and all virtually assured of playing in the final.
With Darrell Goulding the extra back who is likely to miss out, that leaves the Wigan coach, Michael Maguire, to choose between Gareth Hock and Liam Farrell for the last place on the bench.
Neither coach is expected to announce his starting line-up until the statutory hour before kick-off tomorrow. Wigan's full-back, Sam Tomkins, has been listed at the shortest odds the bookies can remember to win the prestigious Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match at Wembley.
According to the Challenge Cup's official betting partners, William Hill, Tomkins is a 9/4 shot for the award. Joint second-favourites, at a distant 10/1, are his team-mates, Paul Deacon and Pat Richards, plus the Leeds trio of Kevin Sinfield, Danny McGuire and Danny Buderus. Wigan are 1/4 odds-on favourites to win the match, the shortest odds since they lost to Sheffield Eagles in 1998.
Leeds' England captain, Jamie Peacock, has revealed that he wants to go into administration when his playing career is over. The 33-year-old front-rower, who plays in his first Wembley final tomorrow, has rejected the idea of becoming a coach. "I think the best contribution I could make would be off the field," he said. "It would be a good thing if more players got involved at that level." Bramall Lane in Sheffield will stage the replay on 7 September if the scores are level after 80 minutes at Wembley.
The Warrington coach, Tony Smith, has criticised the RFL's disciplinary panel for finding Wigan's Harrison Hansen not guilty of a dangerous tackle, thus permitting him to play at Wembley, but suspending his own player, David Solomona, for one match for a similar offence.
Solomona will miss the crucial Super League fixture against Wigan on 4 September, which is almost certain to decide who finishes on top of the table going into the play-offs.
"It's very difficult to understand, but I will try to find out the details of why one player gets suspended, but others don't," Smith said.
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