Long makes retreat from latest betting allegations

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The Independent Online

Sean Long, preparing for his last game for St Helens, has tried to take the renewed heat out of the betting scandal that interrupted his career five years ago.

Long and his then team-mate Martin Gleeson were suspended in 2004 for backing Bradford to beat a weakened Saints side. In promoting his recent autobiography, Longy, he has suggested that players betting on games, forbidden under the sport's by-laws, is widespread, and he has been told by the Rugby Football League that he must name names or face a possible disrepute charge.

But now the scrum-half, who will join Hull after tomorrow's Grand Final against Leeds at Old Trafford, claims to have been misinterpreted. "I don't know of any other instances of betting on the game in this way," he said in a statement yesterday.

Both sides will be at full strength at Old Trafford, with Saints' Keiron Cunningham named after a scan on his broken hand and Ali Lauitiiti recovered from a bout of flu to play for Leeds. "Ali is a big player for us," said a relieved Rhinos coach, Brian McClennan.

The Ireland captain at last year's World Cup, Scott Grix, has joined the Wakefield exodus, the ninth player to leave the club. The versatile Grix has signed a two-year contract at Huddersfield, citing their coach as the main attraction. "Each player has improved playing under Nathan Brown and I want to make sure that my game goes the same way," he said. Brown said that Grix's ability to play anywhere in the backs or at loose forward would heighten the competition for places at the Giants.

Wakefield exceeded all expectations by finishing fifth in the Super League this season, but have seen their squad disintegrate since. They do, however, have a similar number of player coming in.

Halifax have released two of the players who helped to take them to the Championship Grand Final, Mick Govin and Dana Wilson, to make space in their squad for the arrival of Luke Branaghan and Makali Aizue.

Israel Folau, already a bane to British sides in his short career, has pulled out of the Australia squad for this autumn's Four Nations. Folau has decided to rest an ankle injury and is replaced by the St George-Illawarra winger Brett Morris.