TV exposure gives lower leagues a lift

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The Independent Online

The National Leagues are to be televised on Thursday nights over the coming season, giving an unprecedented boost to the game below Super League level. Sky is to screen 25 games, including the play-offs and Grand Finals, starting with Widnes versus Leigh on 5 April. The satellite broadcaster, which already televises Super League, have clinched the deal after their rivals, Eurosport, had been set to do so.

"This new broadcast agreement is a tremendous development for the National Leagues," said the Rugby League's chief operating officer, Nigel Wood. There is no direct financial benefit to the clubs, but the theory is that the exposure will make it easier to attract sponsors, both for them and the competition as a whole.

Huddersfield are to raid Wigan again by taking the young centre, Sean Gleeson, on loan for the first six weeks of the season. Gleeson, who spent most of last season on loan to Widnes, will be cover for another former Wigan player, Martin Aspinwall. Wigan are juggling their squad to stay within the salary cap and also want to send the loose forward, Joel Tomkins, on a season-long loan to Harlequins.

Huddersfield have queried the appointment of Steve Ganson as video referee for their opening match in Super League against St Helens on Sunday. Ganson comes from St Helens, but the League says that there is no rule against him officiating his hometown club, as there is for referees. Ganson is part of the first six-man panel of full-time referees, who will increasingly be used on video duty when they are not out in the middle.

David Solomona, signed from Wakefield, will make his debut for Bradford in the friendly at Keighley tonight.

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