Salford put on brave face after Paul is ruled out for two months

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Robbie Paul, the big signing Salford hope will lead them back into Super League, will miss the first two months of the season after opting for back surgery. The New Zealand international is to have a troublesome disc removed and will miss the group stages of the Northern Rail Cup, which begins next month.

"Having the surgery now means that we will have Robbie's talents available at the business end of the season, when we begin the league in earnest," said the club's director of football, Steve Simms.

Salford's pre-season friendly against Warrington tomorrow has been switched to The Willows because of the state of the pitch at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

The Leeds coach, Brian McClennan, has named his strongest side for the game against South Sydney in Jacksonville today. The Rhinos will field the same starting team who won last season's Grand Final, with only Ryan Bailey missing from the bench because of a groin injury. The Leeds captain, Kevin Sinfield, has said that he might play American Football as a kicker when his rugby days are over.

Hull are without four injured halfbacks for their friendly against Ellery Hanley's Doncaster tomorrow. They will field Danny Washbrook and Andy Last, a loose forward and the reserve hooker, while Peter Cusack makes his debut.

Castleford are to give a two-month trial to Adam Fletcher, the Australian winger who played for them in 2006.

The Great Britain team are in line for a major international sports accolade after being nominated in the "best comeback" category of the Laureus World Sport Awards for their 3-0 series win over New Zealand.