St Helens squad boosted by academy teenagers

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The Independent Online

The Super League champions, St Helens, have added two teenagers to their squad for the defence of the title next season. Steve Tyrer, a 17-year-old goal-kicking centre, has been allocated a squad number for the first time, along with Steve Bannister, a 19-year-old second-rower. Both players are products of Saints' Academy system.

Elsewhere, changes are kept to minimum, with Matthew Gidley replacing his fellow Australian, Jamie Lyon, in the No 3 shirt and the former Wigan prop, Bryn Hargreaves, taking the place vacated by the retirement of Paul Anderson. Saints will start as favourites for all the domestic honours, having won the Grand Final, Challenge Cup, League Leaders' Shield and World Club Challenge in 2006.

Wigan are reported to be interested in Bradford's stand-off Mark Flanagan, 18, who was in Great Britain's Academy squad in the recent series against the Australian Schoolboys. The Wigan coach, Brian Noble, has already had one bid for Flanagan turned down by his former club, but is expected to make another approach before Wigan leave for their pre-season camp in Spain in the new year. Flanagan has yet to make his Super League debut, but could be groomed as long-term cover for the Warriors' key close-season signing, Trent Barrett.

The Leeds captain, Kevin Sinfield, has been cleared of any serious damage to his wrist against Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day. Sinfield said: "I've damaged the cartilage and a tendon, but it's not too serious." Two other Leeds players, Kylie Leuluai and Lee Smith, twisted ankles in the match, but are expected back in full training in time for the new campaign in February.

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