Wigan encourage Jones to make switch to Orrell

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The Independent Online

Wigan, battling to keep Kris Radlinski in rugby league, are encouraging another member of their squad to switch to union. Phil Jones, who has featured in the first team at stand-off this season, is out of contract this year and is in line to join Orrell, owned – like Wigan – by Dave Whelan.

"We'd rather him join Orrell than Sale," said the Wigan chairman, Maurice Lindsay. "This way we keep him in the family. We would retain his registration and we could bring him back if we had injuries."

Meanwhile, both Wigan and the Rugby League – via its scheme to retain "irreplaceable" players – have made their offers to Radlinski and are waiting for his response. "We have made him a fabulous offer for rugby league, but it is dwarfed by the rugby union money," said Lindsay.

"He's aware of our admiration for him, which is why we have offered him as much as we can, but he is being advised by people outside rugby league and I'm not sure what their advice is," he said.

Wigan are contemplating playing their new signing, Jamie Ainscough, at stand-off next season, when the current incumbent, Matthew Johns, returns to Australia. Ainscough has played mainly at centre and wing in Australia, but Lindsay said: "He's an accomplished footballer and could handle it."

Castleford have confirmed that their captain, Adrian Vowles, is leaving to join Leeds. "I thought I would have retired at Castleford, but we could not agree terms," said Vowles, who has been a key man for the club for the past five years. "As this is my full-time job, I had to look at what is best for myself and my family."

The Castleford chief executive, Richard Wright, said: "Adrian has been a tremendous servant to the club and we are disappointed that he has decided to leave."

Leeds have failed in their attempt to sign the Melbourne prop, Rodney Howe, as a replacement on their overseas quota for Jamie Mathiou, who is returning to Australia after five years. Howe would have given Leeds undoubted authority in the front row, but he said yesterday: "I've assessed my options, but I'm staying."

He becomes the third Australian international to reject Leeds' overtures, following the Test half-backs Brett Kimmorley and Brad Fittler.

The Huddersfield and England hooker, Paul Rowley, is to appeal against a three-match ban for use of the knees in a tackle at Halifax.

The Halifax full-back, Darryl Cardiss, has signed a new three-year contract, which will keep him at The Shay until the end of the 2004 season.