Pearson pledges new funds to boost Hull on eve of key tie

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The Independent Online

Hull go into a potentially season-defining Challenge Cup quarter-final this weekend under new ownership.

The former Hull City chairman and owner, Adam Pearson, has confirmed that he has bought out all the existing shareholders of the club, including the chairman, Kath Hetherington.

"I have now purchased the entire shareholding of Hull FC and will be investing further funds in the club to ensure it can kick on and develop into one of the very strongest Super League clubs," he said in a statement.

James Rule will continue to run the club as chief executive, while Pearson will keep his other role as head of football operations at Hull City.

The news of the takeover came as Hull were preparing for tomorrow's Cup tie against Leeds – arguably their most important game of the season so far against a team who beat them 20-0 in Super League last week. The Hull coach, Richard Agar, is likely to make one enforced change to the side that lost at Headingley, with Craig Fitzgibbon struggling to shake off a calf strain which limited him to 15 minutes in that match.

There will be an important role for Sam Moa, who this week agreed a new contract that will keep him at the KC Stadium for 2012. That means that there will be no room on the club's overseas quota for another Polynesian forward, Epalahame Lauaki, who will leave at the end of the season.

With Leeds equally unlikely to manage a top-four finish in Super League, the Cup has assumed an extra significance for them as well. That could have made them more inclined to throw in Kallum Watkins for his first match since a wrist injury in April, but he misses out. Both Brent Webb and Kylie Leuluai are fit to return, however.

There is no doubt about the most eagerly awaited tie of the weekend. In fact, Warrington and Wigan would have been the obvious Wembley final, had they not been drawn together at this stage.

With their league records showing that there is little between the two best sides in the country, much could hinge on who is present and absent today. The Wolves are still without their captain, Adrian Morley, with a head injury, but both Matt King and Ben Harrison have been passed fit. David Solomona, who was rested against Harlequins last week, is also included.

Wigan's Michael Maguire has decided against playing Stuart Fielden, but Ben Cross is in his 19.

Out-of-form Huddersfield are without Kevin Brown, Luke O'Donnell and David Fa'alogo at Castleford, who have Rangi Chase back after suspension. Those comings and goings could have a major impact on this tie.

St Helens have Paul Wellens back after a two-week injury absence against Hull KR.

Wellens' selection in place of Matty Ashurst is the only difference to the side that lined up against Catalans last week. Hull KR welcome back Blake Green and Scott Wheeldon to their side.

Harlequins, already struggling near the foot of the Super League table, are to lose two of their key players next season.

Their captain, Rob Purdham, is to end his 10 years in London by returning for family reasons to Cumbria, where his brother, Garry, was killed in the Whitehaven shootings last year.

Half-back Luke Gale has agreed a two-year deal with Bradford after spending the last two seasons in the capital.