Numerous players face disciplinary hearings

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The Independent Online

Wigan could be without two key players over Easter if the League's disciplinary committee comes down heavily on them tonight. The Warriors' playmaker Trent Barrett, has been told he must face a charge of making a dangerous throw on Paul Johnson during Warrington's 32-20 victory on Saturday, an offence which carries a suspension of up to four games on the League's new sliding scale of punishments.

Wigan already knew that their full-back, Richie Mathers, would be before the disciplinary this evening after becoming the first player to be sent off in Super League this season, for what has been graded as a reckless high tackle on Warrington's Matt King.

That could put him out for up to five games, staring with Saturday's match against Huddersfield and continuing through the Easter programme against St Helens and Hull KR.

Three other players will appear on one of the committee's busier hearings - Hull KR's David Mills for striking in the game at Wakefield, Mark McLinden of Harlequins for a careless high tackle against Huddersfield and Leeds' Matt Diskin for a high tackle classed as reckless in the defeat by Castleford.

The Leeds chief executive, Gary Hetherington, is in Australia for the start of the NRL season, looking for a forward to replace Gareth Ellis next year. Ellis has agreed a three-year deal with the Sydney club, Wests Tigers, and it is in Australia that Hetherington will look for his successor.

The Melbourne Storm back rower, Michael Crocker, who missed the World Club Challenge defeat by Leeds through injury, is reported to be top of Hetherington's wanted list, although he has also admitted an interest in the New Zealand Warriors' veteran, Ruben Wiki.

Six Co-operative National League clubs will begin their campaigns next weekend with the aim not of winning promotion, but of earning one of the licenses to play in Super League next season.

The League is expected to expand the elite competition from 12 to 14 clubs and Salford, Widnes, Leigh, Halifax, Featherstone and the Celtic Crusaders have already declared that they will apply, along with the French club, Toulouse.

The National League's sponsors have come out in favour of the new system. "The stability licensing gives to the clubs will improve the game immeasurably, but it needs to be given time," said the deputy chairman of the Co-op Group, Bill Holt.

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