Wigan lose advantage as football forces them from home

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The Independent Online

Wigan are to stage Friday's Super League play-off match against Bradford at Widnes' Stobart Stadium, after being refused permission to use their own ground. The JJB Stadium they share is being used for the Premier League game between Wigan Athletic and Sunderland the following day and Dave Whelan, the Latics' and former Wigan owner, has refused to let the rugby team play on Friday night.

That means Wigan will lose their hard-earned home advantage in the play-offs. After considering going to Warrington, they have settled on Widnes' ground 15 miles away, with an offer of free coach travel for their supporters. Not all of them will be impressed with arrangements. "I'm not surprised," said the former Supporters' Club chairman, Ted Oliver. "But people will be asking why it's not possible to play both games. It's been done before."

Wigan have Iafeta Paleaaesina clear to play in that match after the Rugby League took no action over an off-the-ball challenge on St Helens' James Graham on Friday. Leeds' Brent Webb is also clear for the play-offs after being told he has no case to answer over being placed on report for an alleged high tackle at Wakefield.

Castleford's Ned Catic faces charges, however, for confronting the referee when sent off for foul and abusive language against Bradford, while Rob Parker again faces scrutiny of his tackling technique following the defeat by Huddersfield.

Graham has won the first major individual award of the season by being named the Rugby League Writers' Association's Player of the Year.

The Australian-born England coach, Tony Smith, who has become a British citizen, has named 17 players from clubs not involved in the Super League play-offs as his initial training squad for this autumn's World Cup. The squad includes two of Harlequins' London-bred players, Tony Clubb and Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook, plus Huddersfield's Darrell Griffin.

The former Leeds coach, Daryl Powell, is returning to rugby league as coach of Featherstone. The Great Britain international was coach of the Rhinos between 2001 and 2003, since when he has been on the coaching staff of their sister rugby union club.

Hull KR have released three players – the former Scotland rugby union winger, Jon Steel, and two forwards, Kirk Netherton and Luke Menzies – as they prepare to announce their new signings for next season.

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