Stankevitch injury adds to Saints worries

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The Independent Online

The St Helens forward, John Stankevitch, might not play again because of nerve damage in his left arm. The 24-year-old, who has played for Lancashire and England A and has been on stand-by for Great Britain, was injured in the play-off last season, after which the Wigan prop, Craig Smith, was warned by the Rugby League about lifting his knees in the tackle.

"I just hope he plays the game again," said Stankevitch's coach, Ian Millward. "He has to be reassessed in two months, but he has lost the nerves in his left arm and has been told that there is only a 10 per cent chance of recovering them."

In a further blow to their pack strength, Saints will be without Mike Bennett for two months with a knee ligament injury.

Steve Rowlands is doubtful for Widnes against Huddersfield on Friday after having three stitches in an eye that was scratched in their Challenge Cup defeat by Wigan.

The tie between St Helens and Leeds is to be the BBC's televised match from the next round on 13 March. Oldham and Sharlston will make their second attempt to play the outstanding fourth round tie tonight.

Also tonight, Oxford and Cambridge go into the Varsity match after some varied preparation. Oxford have been on a trip to Lebanon, while Cambridge have played Warrington and Widnes' Under-21 sides.

"Danny Lima and Chris Leikvoll played for Warrington and we learnt so much from playing against people like that," said the Light Blues' captain, Bobby Forrest. The sides are the usual mixture of backgrounds, with Cambridge including a former St Helens Academy player in Craig Bennett and one born in Kazakhstan in Andrei Bettinson.

Hull KR's former Great Britain prop, Harvey Howard, has retired at the age of 34 after failing to recover fully from a car crash last August.

* The Rugby Football League's disciplinary committee have decided to take no further action against the Hull second-row forward Paul McNicholas, who was sent off on his full debut for a high tackle in Sunday's 21-14 Challenge Cup fourth round win at Leigh.

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