Whitehaven aim to start new season despite troubles

The Rugby League is confident that Whitehaven will start next season, despite the winding-up order issued by HM Revenue and Customs this week.

The Cumbrian club have already been relegated to Championship 1 and will kick off next year on minus nine points after going into administration. The RFL described this week's further crisis as the result of a clerical error by the administrators and expects a takeover of the club to be completed successfully. Whitehaven fans were meeting last night to discuss the possible foundation of a supporters' trust.

England's 19-man squad to play at Whitehaven on Sunday includes seven Warrington players, but not the likely Four Nations captain, Adrian Morley. The prop is resting a slight back injury and will miss the match against Cumbria for the Garry Purdham Fund, in aid of the family of the ex-Workington and Whitehaven player shot dead this summer.

There is no specialist full-back in the squad, but Warrington's Chris Riley and Paul Sykes of Bradford are both likely to be given a chance in the role.

The party to travel to New Zealand and Australia will be named the following day, so the incentive to make an impression is strong. "A lot of these players haven't played for a while and the game time will be invaluable," said the England coach, Steve McNamara. "The stakes are very high for everyone. We leave for the Four Nations next Friday and all the players know that places on the trip are still open."

McNamara has not named any players from the last two clubs knocked out of the Super League play-offs, Leeds and Huddersfield.

Australia's first-choice scrum-half, Johnathon Thurston, is out of the Four Nations with an ankle injury. Three others in the preliminary squad – Michael Jennings, Jamie Lyon and Mark Minichiello – have also been withdrawn.

New Zealand have lost Sam Rapira, who has pulled out for family reasons. The Kiwi coach, Stephen Kearney, who is expected to be named this week as the successor at Parramatta to the sacked Daniel Anderson, will name his final 23-man squad for the tournament next Tuesday.

Huddersfield have signed Joe Wardle, the centre or back-row forward who turned down a new contract at Bradford.

The former Australia and New South Wales full-back, Brett Stewart, has been cleared of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl.

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