Rejection fires Castleford

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The Independent Online

Castleford are using the absence of any of their players from England's World Cup squad as an extra spur going into this weekend's play-offs. Castleford were the only side in the top five not to figure when John Kear, a former player and reserve team coach, named his 24-man party for the tournament.

Castleford are using the absence of any of their players from England's World Cup squad as an extra spur going into this weekend's play-offs. Castleford were the only side in the top five not to figure when John Kear, a former player and reserve team coach, named his 24-man party for the tournament.

"We had a meeting after the squad was named and it has given us a bit of extra motivation," said the Tigers' coach, Stuart Raper. "No one rates us anyway and this can will help us a bit more."

Raper expressed astonishment that Darren Rogers, who has scored more tries as any English winger in Super League this season, was not in the squad. "He might be an unfashionable player, but he has done the job for us all year," he said. "Danny Orr has probably struggled a bit for form, but if you are looking for youth and potential it would have been a great experience for Danny."

Castleford play in an elimination semi-final on Saturday at Leeds, whose coach, Dean Lance, confirmed yesterday that both Iestyn Harris and Adrian Morley, who missed the shock defeat by London Broncos last Friday to nurse injuries, will be fit to play. However, Chev Walker, the 17-year-old who was named this week in the England squad, will be left out to accommodate the return of Graham Mackay from a broken nose and cracked cheekbone. Walker will play instead in the Alliance team.

Francis Stephenson, the Wakefield prop who was interesting Leeds as well as several other clubs, has joined Wigan on a three-year contract. "I'm thrilled to be joining Wigan in what has been a dream week for me after my inclusion in the England squad," said the 24-year-old.

Stephenson becomes Wigan's fifth major signing for next season and the latest departure from troubled Wakefield, who face a meeting of Super League clubs today that could determine their future.

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