Watkins included in Leeds' Final squad
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Friday 07 October 2011
The Leeds coach, Brian McDermott, has added Kallum Watkins and Ali Lauitiiti to the squad that won through to tomorrow's Super League Grand Final. Watkins, the highly rated 19-year-old, has not played since suffering a flare-up of a knee problem after the Challenge Cup final defeat by Warrington, but could give the Rhinos an extra option at centre against St Helens at Old Trafford.
If Lauitiiti plays, probably in place of another New Zealander, Weller Hauraki, it will be his 200th appearance for Leeds – and his last before joining Wakefield for next season. It will also be the farewell game for the former Australian Test hooker Danny Buderus, who is rejoining the Newcastle Knights.
St Helens, who have been installed as 4-6 favourites, are expected to field the same starting team that beat Wigan in their semi-final, but have sprung a surprise by leaving Leon Pryce out of their choice of possible substitutes.
Pryce, with nine previous Grand Finals to his credit, missed the Wigan game with sickness. Although he has trained this week, his coach, Royce Simmons, does not feel that he has had enough game time to be risked at Old Trafford.
That leaves the final place in the 17 to be contested between Gary Wheeler, Tom Armstrong and Matty Ashurst. It would be a particular fairy tale for Armstrong, who has been playing for Leigh under the dual registration scheme and scored the winning try for them in the Northern Rail Cup final this summer.
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The former Hull KR, Widnes and Whitehaven forward Ryan Tandy is facing a life ban after being found guilty of match-fixing in Australia.
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