Warrington clear way for Johns

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The Independent Online

Warrington, who play Salford in their last pre-Johns match today, have deregistered Graham Appo to make room for Johns on their overseas quota. Appo was important enough to be the club's player of the year two seasons ago, but he is injured - along with Dean Gaskell and Mike Wainwright - and there is little room for sentiment. "It is an unfortunate time of the season to get injured," said his coach, Paul Cullen, with some understatement.

Apart from recruiting Morley - subject to his Sydney Roosters team being knocked out of the Australian competition this week - and losing Jamie Peacock to Leeds and Leon Pryce to St Helens, the Bulls also made an approach this week for Salford's Karl Fitzpatrick. Salford have rejected those overtures, for the good reason that the mercurial full-back is the sort of talent upon which they need to build for next season.

Wakefield, who are at home to Widnes, have clinched the signature of the New Zealand international forward Monty Betham for the next two seasons. They could give a debut today to Austin Buchanan, the winger on loan from the York City Knights.

Widnes will be without Terry O'Connor, who despite playing in a relegated side has gained more metres than any other player this season. Along with Mick Cassidy and Mark Smith, O'Connor has turned down opportunities to go elsewhere in order to re-sign with Widnes for next season.

The club also insist that the Cronulla full-back David Peachey is still joining them next year, relegation or no relegation. It reads like an impressive nucleus for a National League One side.

Leigh, who are heading in the same direction, play in front of their new coach, Tony Benson, for the first time. The former Junior Kiwis coach was appointed last week and will be back in Britain to begin work for next season in October. Benson has already watched dozens of videos of Leigh games, but he will have a better idea of the scale of the challenge ahead after seeing them take on St Helens this afternoon.

The former Leigh hooker Mick Higham could be back in Saints' side for the first time in three months, but looks set to leave the club after tiring of playing second fiddle to Keiron Cunningham. Bradford and Wigan are possible destinations as the shake-up of Super League personnel looks set to continue through the rest of this season and beyond.

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