Poching plays waiting game for final

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Samoan World Cup forward is recovering from a fractured cheekbone and his chances of facing Hull at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on 27 August depend on medical advice next week. "We won't rule him out until he's told he can't play," his coach, Tony Smith, said. "If [the specialists] say there's no danger of any further damage I'm sure Willie would take the risk. But he wouldn't risk the team's situation for his own reward."

Danny Ward and Jamie Jones-Buchanan get the chance to stake their claim against the Bulls on Friday night when they return after injuries. Mark Calderwood, the Rhinos' leading try-scorer, also expects to be fit to face Bradford after suffering a dead-leg in the victory over London last Saturday.

Hull report no injury problems leading up to their last game before the final on Sunday against Wigan, who plan to announce today a signing that will complete their squad for next season.

The new coach, Ian Millward, has made five signings for 2006 but the chairman, Maurice Lindsay, has promised that there is one big-name recruit to come.

Castleford have bolstered their faltering bid for promotion to Super League by signing Damien Blanch, 22, from the Australian club Penrith Panthers for the rest of the season.

The Tigers' coach, Dave Wood, coached Blanch, a centre or winger, in the junior sides at Penrith. "He will bring extra enthusiasm to the squad for the vital run-in," he said.

Blanch could make his debut as quickly as Sunday's home game against Halifax.