World Cup alters domestic season

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The Independent Online

Next season's Super League Grand Final will be played a week early to give England and the other home nations time to build up for the World Cup in Australia.

The season will start, like the one just finished on the first weekend of February, with the champions, Leeds, getting a match out of the way to create a window three weeks later to play Melbourne in the World Club Challenge. The Final, however, will be on 4 October, with a week saved by not clearing a weekend for a mid-season international. England start their World Cup campaign against Papua New Guinea in Townsville on 25 October.

Leeds, meanwhile, are being linked with the Widnes loose forward or hooker, Bob Beswick.

Harlequins are threatening legal action against Henry Fa'afili and his agent after the New Zealand winger reneged on his contract with them. Fa'afili, the leading try-scorer in Super League with Warrington last season, had agreed a two-year deal to continue his league career with the London club, but has now been unveiled as a new signing by the French rugby union club, Biarritz.

Harlequins have lost another player, with the back-row forward, Steve Bannister, joining relegated Salford on a one-year contract. A product of St Helens' Academy side, he played on loan at Whitehaven last season before joining Quins.

On the plus side, Joe Mbu has signed on for another year. The back-rower moved to Doncaster last season but returned to London when they struck financial trouble.

New Zealand have added 19-year-old winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall to the squad for their European tour. Injuries ruled out Krisnan Inu and Luke Covell, who were hurt during the Kiwis' 58-0 thrashing by Australia in Wellington on Sunday.