Widnes, who were one win away from Super League at the weekend, went into administration yesterday to try to keep the professional game alive in the town. The debt-ridden club is up for sale, although existing board members have plans to put a package together to save it.
Widnes were beaten by Castleford in the National League 1 Grand Final on Sunday, thus denying them promotion to the top flight, from which they were relegated in 2005.
This year's team is already breaking up, with three of its members – Jordan James, Aaron Summers and Ian Webster – announced yesterday as signings by the Celtic Crusaders. The Welsh club, promoted as champions of NL2, have also signed three Hull KR players – Mark Lennon, Luke Dyer and David Tangata-Toa – and the Welshmen, Steve Thomas and Ben Flower.
Of other Widnes players, Toa Kohe-Love and Gareth Price are expected to join Dennis Moran at Leigh, while Damien Blanch is lilnked with Wakefield.
The Great Britain coach, Tony Smith, has dropped Wigan's Stuart Fielden and Gareth Hock from his squad to face the New Zealand tourists this autumn. Fielden became the world's most expensive player when he was signed for £450,000 from Bradford last year, but has been disappointing this season.
"I had a really good conversation with Stuart and he has been struggling with injury, which is all credit to him," said Smith. "He realises his form probably hasn't warranted selection at the moment."
Fielden has been a fixture in the Test team since his debut in 2001, while Hock established himself as a first choice in the pack last year. Their absence leaves Sean O'Loughlin as the only Wigan player to be added to Smith's squad following their exit from the Super League play-offs.
The Hull pair, Garreth Carvell and Richard Horne, have both withdrawn because of injury, leaving Rob Burrow as the only scrum-half in the squad.
One who could be considered by Smith, Lee Briers, has an ankle injury but hopes to be fit to captain Wales against Papua New Guinea on 28 October. His Warrington team-mate Chris Bridge (also ankle) is out of Ireland's squad for their World Cup qualifiers.
Ashley Klein is to referee the Super League Grand Final between St Helens and Leeds, his second appointment for the Old Trafford showpiece.Reuse content