Sculthorpe forced out of Tests

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The Independent Online

Great Britain will have to find another captain for this autumn's Tri-Nations with the news that Paul Sculthorpe needs a knee operation that will keep him out for the season.

Sculthorpe had been named as the successor to Andy Farrell after the Wigan man's departure for rugby union. But an operation to clean out his knee has revealed serious damage that will keep him out of the latter stages of St Helens' Super League campaign as well as the end-of-season internationals.

"I've never had full extension in it, but I've been playing through it and it has affected other things like my hamstring and back," Sculthorpe said. "It's a long-term injury."

Great Britain are now likely to promote their vice-captain, Bradford's Jamie Peacock, into the top role.

Widnes intend to retain a full-time squad of players to try to recover their Super League status. With relegation almost inevitable - Widnes are effectively six points from safety with only five games to play - the club insisted yesterday that it planned to remain fully professional. Frank Endacott said that he wanted to stay on as coach, even though his contract is only for Super League.

Leigh, who are already relegated, have appealed for the maximum salary cap in National League One to be raised to £500,000 from its present £400,000 so that they can retain more of their players.

Leeds' Samoan forward Willie Poching was thought to have broken his jaw at Leigh, which would have ruled him out of the Challenge Cup final against Hull later this month, but the injury has now been found to be a fractured cheekbone, upon which Poching had minor surgery on Monday.

"Willie is certainly not ruled out of the final at this stage," said his coach, Tony Smith. "We will give him every chance to make it for Cardiff."

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