Wolves in hunt for scrum-half as Rodwell is ruled out

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The Independent Online

Warrington have named a squad without a scrum-half for their opening Super League fixture against Halifax on Sunday. Their first choice and new team captain, Matt Rodwell, has been ruled out by a freak eye injury, caused by a stray finger from team-mate, Paul Wood, during the Challenge Cup defeat by St Helens last weekend.

Rodwell will need laser surgery on a damaged retina and the squad situation is made worse by a knee injury to his obvious replacement, Lee Briers, who played full-back on Saturday. Warrington's third choice, Gary Hulse, is also on the injured list with a damaged knee.

The club's performance director, Steve Anderson, says if Hulse does not recover in time he will have to ask one of his other players to fill an unfamiliar position. The Papua New Guinea international, Tom O'Reilly, is versatile enough to fill any midfield role, while the hooker, Jon Clarke, has some experience at scrum-half.

"Sides have to cater for these things during the season and we're more than capable of handling this situation," said Anderson, who will also be without two forwards, Darren Burns and Jerome Guisset, for the visit of the Blue Sox.

Castleford's Barrie-Jon Mather has set next month's Challenge Cup tie against Doncaster as the target for his comeback. The Great Britain tourist has been out of action since mid-way through last season with a shoulder injury that has required a major reconstruction.

The Dewsbury prop, Frank Watene, has been suspended for two matches after being sent off for use of the elbow in the Northern Ford Premiership match against Leigh.

BARLA, which runs the amateur branch of the game, has invited applications for a new National League Division 3 to begin competition this summer. The division is to be effectively the fourth tier of a new pyramid structure, directly below Super League and two divisions of semi-professional sides.

Another division, composed of sides from the Rugby League Conference – the summer competition for clubs outside the heartlands – will run alongside the BARLA-run competition, with a long-term aim to introduce full promotion and relegation throughout the pyramid.