Luck is on Hull's side after Thackray farce

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The Independent Online

Hull go to Harlequins in Super League this afternoon knowing that they are a desperately lucky club still to be in the game's other major competition. It was revealed during the week that Hull had fielded Jamie Thackray in the ties against Rochdale and Widnes even though he had signed three weeks after the registration deadline for the early rounds of the Challenge Cup.

If such an obvious breach occurred in the North-West Counties or the Heavy Woollen Cup, the perpetrators would be out on their ear. Hull, however, will escape with a fine, subject to the ruling of the Rugby League's compliance manager.

There are a few astonishing aspects of this. It is alarming that one of our leading clubs did not know the registration rules, and even more alarming that nobody at the League realised that they had been broken in the tie against Rochdale. Having had it confirmed, it is remarkable that there should be no specific penalty laid down. It would be wrong to call this chaos amateur hour, because by and large amateur clubs know what will happen to them if they field an ineligible player.

At the very least they will lose any advantage gained in that game – and yet Hull have been left unscathed to play Bradford in the quarter-finals in a fortnight. Before that, they have this tricky visit to The Stoop, still without their goalkicking back-rower Danny Tickle, and with their Great Britain wing Gareth Raynor facing a test on damaged stomach muscles.

For Quins, their captain, Rob Purdham, is out with a torn hamstring and Scott Hill will have a late test on a similar injury.

Hull's neighbours Hull KR are at Huddersfield but without their influential forward Ben Galea, who will be out for four to six weeks with a knee injury. Chris Thorman returns from a leg injury for Huddersfield, who drop Rob Jensen.

Last-placed Castleford, at home to Bradford, have Ryan Clayton and Peter Lupton missing, but Nick Catic in line to make his home debut. The Bulls will be without Shontayne Hape and Wayne Godwin but James Evans and Ben Jeffries are in contention.

In National League One, Neil Kelly takes charge of Leigh for the first time at home to Featherstone. Warren Jowitt is in charge of Dewsbury on a caretaker basis at Halifax, following the sacking of the other Kelly brother, Andy.

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