Mears relishes second chance for career in England

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The Independent Online

Leigh's new signing, the Australian Robbie Mears, is hoping for a happier second stint in England.

Mears played some good rugby for Leeds four years ago, but went home early with a shattered jaw and also had problems off the field with a string of burglaries at his house. Hewas in semi-retirement, playing in the country town of Mittagong, before Leigh called. "I got the opportunity to come back here and I thought I might as well make the most of it," Mears said.

The former Canterbury, Auckland and Wests-Tigers hooker will have had just a couple of training sessions with his new team-mates, but still goes straight into their squad for the match against Wakefield this evening.

Leigh are the only club to have seen anything of Wakefield's Sid Domic this season. Last season's leading try-scorer has recovered from a hip injury to make only his second appearance this year. His first, following a hernia operation, was also against Leigh.

Michael Korkidas, Olivier Elima and Jamie Field also return to make the Wakefield pack look stronger than the one which got on top of the London Broncos last week.

"We still have a long injury list, but finally players are coming back into contention and raring to go," said the Wildcats coach, Shane McNally. "Sid trained fully at the back end of last week and all this week and there's been no after effects."

London, who have Thomas Leuluai back in their side after Test duty with New Zealand for tomorrow's game at home to Bradford, have rallied to the defence of their prop forward, Mark Tookey, who was described in a trade publication recently as "a lard-arse."

The Broncos captain, Mark McLinden, who is expected to move back to hooker to accommodate Leuluai, said Tookey was well used to remarks about his size.

"But when it becomes sinister and personal that's a different matter and really [it] shouldn't be tolerated," he added.

Also tomorrow, at the KC Stadium, faltering Hull, in third place, meet the season's most improved team, Salford, who are a heady fifth. Hull, beaten at Warrington last week, have Gareth Raynor, Garreth Carvell and Chris Chester back in their squad. Salford are still having to do without Karl Fitzpatrick.

The Netherlands play Georgia in Rotterdam tonight in the first qualifying match for the 2005 European Nations Cup. Serbia and Montenegro will also attempt to win a place to compete with France, Russia, Wales, Scotland and Ireland in the main draw.

England, who won the finals in 2003 and 2004 with embarrassing ease, are to be given a separate fixture list, possibly against New Zealand A.