Noble keeps players guessing

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The Independent Online

Brian Noble is keeping his Bradford players guessing over which of them will inherit Henry Paul's position at stand-off for the World Club Challenge against Newcastle Knights next Friday.

"People ask me how I'm going to replace Henry and I tell them that I can't," said the Bulls coach yesterday. "But I'm confident we have the players to cope with his loss."

Early indications are that Robbie Paul will switch to stand-off in place of his brother, with Paul Deacon starting at scrum-half, but Noble says there are other contenders.

"Brandon Costin played very well at stand-off for Huddersfield last season and Leon Pryce wants to move in-field," he said. "I will tell the players on Monday, but probably not announce it until Thursday."

The Wigan and Great Britain hooker, Terry Newton, has recovered from the broken arm which kept him out of last autumn's Ashes series. Newton has been named in Wigan's squad to face Hull in Andy Farrell's testimonial match next Wednesday.

"I've been given the all-clear, although I'll wear some padding for a few weeks, just in case," Newton said. He is likely to be needed for the full match next week, because Wigan's other hooker, Mark Smith, is still recovering from minor knee surgery.

Wakefield are to tackle their hooking problem in their friendly at Leeds tonight by using the young scrum-half, Paul Handforth, and the new Australian signing, Nathan Wood, in the role. Trinity have been deprived of their only specialist in the position by David March's broken wrist, which will keep him out for the first three months of the season.

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