David Waite, the Great Britain coach, has narrowed down his options for the first Test against Australia at Wigan on Saturday by releasing the Bradford back, Stuart Reardon, to rejoin the England A squad.
Reardon, the man of the match in the Super League Grand Final, was a late addition to the squad for their training camp in Spain last week and was seen in some quarters as a contender for the problem left-wing spot. "He is still the most likely player to be brought back into the squad if someone gets injured," the Great Britain manager, Phil Clarke, said.
Reardon will now come into contention for the England A match against Wales at Headingley on Sunday, but has not given up hope of being involved in the Ashes. "I'll be there and ready, but at least I'll still be playing," he said. "If they do need me they can call me back in."
Waite now has a list of candidates for the No 5 shirt, but players like Hull's Richard Horne, Lee Gilmour of Bradford and David Hodgson of Wigan have all spent this season playing other roles for their clubs.
Paul Sculthorpe was still unable to train with the squad yesterday because of his calf injury, but Andy Farrell again came through the session safely.
Alex Wilkinson, the Bradford back who spent most of the season on loan to Hull, has joined the club permanently on a two-year contract.
Wigan could be the next club to follow the lead of Leeds and Bradford - who accelerated Reardon's development by lending him out to Salford in 2002 - in sending some of their players out on long-term loans. Stephen Wild has been linked with Hull, while the reserve full-back, Shaun Briscoe, would be welcome at a number of clubs.
"He is the next Kris Radlinski, but it is going to do him no good playing Academy rugby," the Wigan chairman, Maurice Lindsay, said. "Letting them go on loan is something we are looking at, although we will be running the risk of them falling in love with the club they go to."
Leigh have persuaded their prolific scorer Neil Turley to sign with them for another season and also signed Mark McCully and Dave McConnell - who ended last season on loan to the London Broncos - from Chorley, the club where the new Leigh coach, Darren Abram, was last season.
London Broncos continued their recruitment yesterday by signing winger Lee Greenwood on a three-year deal from relegated Halifax and the Australian-born stand-off Radney Bowker from promoted Salford.Reuse content