Relegated Salford clear decks as Jones bows out

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The Independent Online

Salford get an early preview of life without their Super League status and several of their star players when they go to Harlequins today. Luke Robinson, who has signed for Huddersfield, and Andy Coley, destined for Wigan, have played their last games for the club and Stefan Ratchford, used as a hooker in his previous first-team appearances, gets the first chance to put down a marker for Robinson's place at scrum-half.

Salford's regular hooker and captain, Malcolm Alker, has declared already that he wants to stay, despite an offer from the Australian outfit, Wests-Tigers.

For Quins, Lee Hopkins will be playing his last home game before retiring and going home to Australia.

Tomorrow's programme sees Gareth Hock poised to make a surprisingly swift return for Wigan at Hull KR after breaking a bone in his hand. Rovers, who saw the Australian prop, Michael Vella, pick up the major awards at their Player of the Year ceremonies this week, have granted a testimonial to Stanley Gene.

Huddersfield's Brad Drew and Paul Reilly are in line for the unusual experience of playing against Wakefield, the club they have already agreed to join next season. Keith Mason and Steve Snitch are back for the Giants after suspension and injury respectively and both play against their former club.

Bradford expect to have Shontayne Hape back in their side for the last game of the regular season against Hull next Friday. The Bulls are also set to sign Wayne Godwin, the former Castleford and Wigan hooker who is being released by Hull. Bradford are at home to Catalan tomorrow, the match which will be the last in this country for the Dragons' celebrated Kiwi international scrum-half, Stacey Jones, who has announced his retirement at the end of the season.

Many of the formalities in the lower divisions will be resolved tomorrow, starting with Castleford's chance to top National League One if they win at relegated Rochdale. Cas still has to negotiate the play-offs and a grand final before they can return to Super League, but only the shock of the season will deny them home advantage over their nearest rivals Widnes.

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