Reds add 'The General' for Willows' last battle

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The Independent Online

Salford have made the first major signing for their final season at The Willows as they bid to retain their Super League licence for 2012. The Canterbury full-back Luke Patten will arrive next season on a three-year contract after the City Reds beat several other clubs for his services.

"Luke has been one of the finest full-backs in the world for many years and it is a signal of our intent for the future," said the Salford chairman, John Wilkinson, who has been driving the club's plans for a new stadium for 2012. "We are continuing to look at bringing further exceptional talent to The Willows for the final season."

That talent is unlikely to include Patten's Canterbury team-mate, the Australian Test second-rower Andrew Ryan, but signing the full-back, known as "The General", is a major coup. Among other clubs, Huddersfield had seen him as a potential successor to Brett Hodgson in their No 1 shirt.

"Luke has been one of this club's great leaders and we are sorry to see him go," said Canterbury's chief executive, Todd Greenberg.

Patten's arrival throws doubt over the future of Salford's current full-back, Karl Fitzpatrick, who has not been offered a new contract for next season.

Castleford have reiterated that they are to press ahead with their proposed new stadium at Glasshoughton, following Wakefield's announcement that they are not interested in ground-sharing with them there.

Hull KR have asked Wigan whether they can extend Josh Charnley's loan until the end of the season. The 19-year-old centre has yet to make his first-team debut at Wigan, but has shone in three games since his arrival at Rovers.

Geoff Carr, the chairman of the Australian Rugby League, has warned NRL clubs that it would be illegal for them to prevent their players taking part in the Four Nations tournament this autumn.

Reports have suggested that clubs could impose the boycott in protest at delays in setting up an independent commission to run the game in Australia, but Carr said that they are contractually obliged to release their players to play against England, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in the competition.