Smith joins St Helens as Castleford exodus grows

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The Independent Online

St Helens have signed the New Zealander, Michael Smith, as the exodus continues from relegated Castleford. The 26-year-old second-rower has joined Saints on a two-year contract. "Michael will add size and mobility to the pack," his new coach, Ian Millward, said.

"He has a good off-load and holds some of the most impressive offensive and defensive stats in Super League. We aim to make him a better player at Saints." Millward has tipped the other forward he has signed for next season, Paul Anderson, to make a surprise farewell appearance for Bradford in tomorrow's Super League Grand Final against Leeds. Anderson has been out of the Bulls team recently, but they will need to draft a player on to the substitutes bench if, as expected, Paul Johnson is promoted to take the place of the injured Leon Pryce.

New Zealand are resigned to being without their first-choice pairing in the second row for the Tri-Nations in England later this month. The Penrith partnership of Joe Galuvao and Tony Puletua are to play in the opening game of the tournament, against Australia in Auckland tomorrow, but have been told by their club that they must then go back to Sydney for operations. The Kiwis have accepted that Galuvao needs surgery on his ankle, but had thought that Puletua would be allowed to delay his shoulder operation until the end of the competition.

"I have signed a contract, as have the Australian and English Rugby League, saying that we must pick the best possible players," the chairman of the NZRL, Selwyn Pearson, said. "If the clubs decide everything, then we have a serious problem."

The absence of the Penrith pair could create an opportunity for two British-based players, Leeds' Ali Lauitiiti and Wakefield's David Solomona. Both have had outstanding seasons recognised by inclusion in the Super League Dream Team.

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