Raynor added to England's long list of World Cup absentees

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The Independent Online

England's first-choice winger, Gareth Raynor, is out of this autumn's World Cup. The Hull player has pulled out of the training squad for the tournament in Australia with a toe injury in the latest blow to the plans of the coach, Tony Smith. He had hoped that an injection would cure the problem, but it now seems he will need an operation, which will prevent him from training.

Raynor, along with St Helens' Ade Gardner, is Smith's first-choice wingman. His absence leaves an opportunity for the relatively inexperienced Hull KR player, Peter Fox, who made his Test debut against France this summer, and improves the chances of Huddersfield's David Hodgson making the final 24-man squad when it is named next month. England have already lost Sam Burgess, Jon Clarke, Sean O'Loughlin, Terry Newton, Paul Deacon and Andy Lynch but Smith claims to be relatively unconcerned. "There are plenty of good young players to choose from," he said.

The Catalan Dragons' Remi Casty is another player whose World Cup participation is under threat. He will appear before the RFL's disciplinary hearing tonight accused of a reckless high tackle on Wigan's Gareth Hock and a ban could put him out of France's group games against Fiji and Scotland.

Jamie Thackray has agreed a contract extension to stay an extra year at Hull, after being linked with a possible move to Wigan, who cannot get away from their local rivals, St Helens, despite Super League's best efforts.

After two years of extra derby fixtures in the Millennium Magic weekend in Cardiff – and two big wins for Saints – next year's event in Edinburgh will be based on a draw made at Murrayfield yesterday. But the two clubs came out of the hat together.

The two new Super League clubs, Salford and Celtic Crusaders, will play Harlequins and Huddersfield respectively on the weekend of 2 and 3 May.

Widnes have released 12 players in a mass clearout for next year's National League One season. Those leaving include several with extensive Super League experience. Bob Beswick is joining Halifax, while the French forward Adel Fellous and the former Saints full-back Ian Hardman are looking for new clubs, along with Paul Noone.

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