The Warrington centre, Ian Sibbit, is to become only the second Englishman in Australia's National Rugby League following his shock signing for the Melbourne Storm.
Sibbit, a regular in the Wolves' team for the last two years, follows Adrian Morley into the NRL, although in his case the signing has clearly been made on the potential identified by the Storm's chief executive, Chris Johns, on a recent scouting trip to Britain.
"It's a shame to lose him," the Warrington coach, Steve Anderson, said. "We made him an offer, but, with the financial situation the way it is, we couldn't go to the top." By way of consolation, Warrington have signed two other players for next season – the Australian centre, Craig Weston, who was a member of Widnes' promotion-winning side, and the New Zealander, Matt Sturm, who was with Workington last season.
Melbourne, the winners of the Australian Grand Final two years ago but disappointing since, are still interested in Wakefield's teenaged prop forward, Keith Mason.
Tommy Martyn makes his comeback after his hip injury in tonight's match against Leeds, which could be a dress rehearsal for a play-off clash between the two clubs in two weeks' time.
Salford have turned down Swinton's request to groundshare with them at The Willows, but have agreed to let them play matches there in January and February.
The country's 31 professional clubs will be asked to accept a radical new blueprint for the game's future in its entirety when the Rugby League Council meets next month. The clubs will be presented with 113 proposals from a panel that has been carrying out a strategic review. The RFL's chairman, Sir Rodney Walker, said that the rethink had been partly forced by the financial failure of last year's World Cup and by the pressure exerted by rugby union. "Without some positive action on our part, we would have been sleepwalking into oblivion," he said.
Among the changes clubs will be asked to approve is the motion to harmonise the playing seasons of three professional and semi-professional divisions, headed by a slimmed-down, 10-team Super League. Below that, also in the summer, will be two amateur divisions, although the majority of amateur rugby league will continue in winter.
There would be a new knock-out trophy for non-Super League clubs, and play-offs to decide relegation as well as promotion.
A new emphasis on international rugby would see up to 10 weekends of the season left clear for representative matches and a proposed five-year International calendar includes an annual triangular series against Australia and New Zealand and an expanded, six-team World Club Championship.Reuse content