Paul leaves Bulls to join the union ranks

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The Independent Online

Bradford Bulls yesterday confirmed that Henry Paul is to become the latest cross-code defector and will join Gloucester at the end of the season on a four-year contract worth around £150,000 a season.

The announcement brings to an end the long-running saga of the New Zealand stand-off's future plans, with union in his homeland and league in Australia both bidding for his services.

"Obviously, we are disappointed, particularly as we were told by Henry's agent some time ago that the package offered by the Bulls to the player was acceptable," said Bradford's chairman, Chris Caisley. "Unfortunately, it seems that the financial support offered by the Rugby Football Union to union clubs wishing to sign league players has been influential in enabling Gloucester to sign Henry.

"His three years at the Bulls have been tremendous, and the club would like to wish him every success in the future."

Paul, 27, played for Wakefield and Wigan before joining his younger brother, Robbie, at the Bulls.

Bradford had a trial run without both brothers last week, but they return from Kiwi Test duty to play against Leeds tomorrow. However, Bulls must manage without prop Brian McDermott – a minor knee operation temporarily reduces their Awesome Foursome to a trio.

Leeds have been working on Iestyn Harris to try to get him fit, but he will need a fitness test today. Ryan Sheridan could play some part after half a game in the Alliance in midweek. Warrington's departing coach, Darryl Van de Velde, believes uncertainty about the future is undermining his team's performances.

In their last two games the Wolves have conceded 70 points to St Helens and 52 to Huddersfield. "It's been disgraceful and, while I don't want to make excuses, there's so much frailty about the club at the moment," said Van de Velde, whose successor could be named next week.

Only a handful of players have been contracted for next season. "People don't know what they're doing and it's affecting them," he added. Allan Langer will play against London Broncos tonight despite being unable to train with an ankle injury.

Castleford will have Michael Eagar, Darren Rogers and Danny Orr back against resurgent Huddersfield tomorrow.

Leigh and Widnes were the sides most people wanted to see in the NFP Grand Final, but Leigh's surprise defeat by Oldham in the opening round of the play-offs put paid to that.

They now meet a week ahead of schedule in what is sure to be a passionate affair at Hilton Park tomorrow.