Shoulder injury forces Hetherington into retirement

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The Independent Online

Jason Hetherington, the London Broncos' Australian international hooker, has decided to retire because of injury.

The 32-year-old, who was also London's captain, had shoulder surgery during the winter and went home to Queensland to try to work his way back to full fitness. He has now admitted defeat and says he will concentrate on working on his family's farm. "You body tells you when it's time to hang up your boots and pick up the plough and that's what I'm going to do," Hetherington said.

The Broncos' coach, Tony Rea, said that he understood the player's decision. "Although he could have come over and pulled on the shirt, he didn't want to let down himself or the team," Rea said.

London have managed well in Hetherington's absence, with the former Wigan Academy hooker, Neil Budworth, playing in every game as they have closed in on the play-offs. If they feel they need a more experienced specialist in the position, however, Hull's Dean Treister is looking for a club for next season, while the agent for the St George-Illawarra hooker, Mark Riddell, says he has had an approach from Widnes, which Widnes deny.

Tonga want the Bradford wingers, Tevita Vaikona and Lesley Vainikolo, to play for them in the Rugby Union World Cup later this year. The pair, who both played for Tonga in the Sevens tournament at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, have been told by their club that they can go, provided there is no clash of fixtures. "We wouldn't stop them, provided there is no clash with any of our games and we can arrange insurance," the Bulls' chairman, Chris Caisley, said.

One snag could be that, if the Bulls reach the Super League Grand Final in October, it takes place three days after Tonga's opening group game against Italy.

Bradford have had encouraging news about two injured Great Britain internationals, with Stuart Fielden and Karl Pratt both expected to be out for only three weeks.

York's Welsh international winger, Chris Smith, will be out of action for the rest of the season after suffering cruciate ligament damage.

Wigan's New Zealand Test prop, Craig Smith, has been suspended for one match for a careless high tackle. Smith was placed on report for the challenge on Huddersfield's Brandon Costin during Wigan's defeat at the McAlpine Stadium on Sunday.