Leeds to give Botham his senior league debut

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The Independent Online

Liam Botham is set to make his senior debut in a third sport by playing for Leeds at Castleford on Friday night.

Botham, who has already played first-class cricket for Hampshire and rugby union for Cardiff, Newcastle, Hartlepool and England A, could be called into the Rhinos' back-line because of injuries to Chris McKenna and Gary Connolly. He has impressed in the Under-21s since signing a dual-code contract with Leeds, after trials at Bradford. "Liam has done everything we have asked of him since coming to the club," said the Leeds coach, Daryl Powell. "I've no doubt he can handle playing in Super League."

Willie Talau could make his St Helens debut this weekend. Saints have secured a work permit for the New Zealand Test centre, already due to arrive next year, to join them on loan from Canterbury for the rest of this season.

The Hunslet forward Danny Burton has been suspended until the end of the year after failing to take a drug test. Burton declined to give a urine sample after a National League Two match - an offence which normally carries a two-year ban - but a League panel has accepted that there were extenuating circumstances, connected with a family bereavement.

"We fully back Danny, although we don't agree with him refusing to take the test," said his coach, Roy Sampson. "He will be playing for us next season, as this isn't a case of him being guilty of taking drugs."

Halifax have been fined £1,000, suspended for a year, for derogatory comments about Bradford supporters in their club programme. The Rugby League ordered Halifax to pay £270 costs over the article, which referred to Bulls' fans as "retards".

Castleford have signed the Australian second-rower Sean Ryan from Hull on a one-year deal. Ryan will replace Dale Fritz, who is retiring.

Huddersfield have denied that they are in danger of losing Brandon Costin to Leeds. "There is no foundation in it," said their chief executive, Ralph Rimmer. The club have signed the Rochdale forward Paul Smith on a two-year contract from next season.

The former Australia full-back Robbie O'Davis wants to end his career in England after being asked to take a 75 per cent pay-cut at the Newcastle Knights. "It feels like they've given me a kick in the arse," he said.

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