Northern Rail back on track with new deal to sponsor cup

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The Independent Online

Clubs outside Super League are celebrating an extended sponsorship for one of their competitions and anticipating a new backer for the other.

Northern Rail have extended their sponsorship of the early-season cup for another three years. "It is six years since we introduced it and it has gone from strength to strength," said the Rugby League's operations executive, Nigel Wood.

The National Leagues are still without a sponsor, but Wood is confident that the announcement soon of a TV deal with Sky will encourage bidders. Sky is set to show a live match every Thursday night from Easter onwards, and Wood believes that makes the National Leagues an attractive proposition. "We are in discussions with a couple of companies," he said.

Both the cup and league games will be played under a new scoring system, with losing sides getting a one-point bonus for going down by 12 or less.

The Catalans Dragons' prospects for the Super League season have become gloomier with the news that Stacey Jones could be out for as long as nine weeks following knee surgery.

The Leeds and Great Britain centre Keith Senior has hinted he will retire from international rugby before the World Cup in Australia next year.

Senior, now 30, says he will be available for this autumn's series against New Zealand but probably not after that. He shares a joint testimonial with Paul Reilly when Leeds play Huddersfield tonight.

Adrian Morley and Vinnie Anderson will make their Warrington debuts in a friendly on Sunday at Salford.

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