Saints act over 'racial abuse'of Matautia

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St Helens have complained to the Rugby League that their Samoan forward, Vila Matautia, has become the target for racial abuse from opposing players.

The Saints coach, Ian Millward, said: "We have more overseas players than most clubs and unfortunately we believe that racial taunts are creeping back into the game.

"We have sent a letter to the Rugby League expressing our concern with Vila appearing to be a major target. He is trying to improve his discipline but appears to be singled out by the opposition. There are laws in place to protect players from this sort of abuse, which should have no part in sport or society."

Matautia was sin-binned and suspended for two matches after striking Hull's Deon Bird last Friday, but Saints' football manager, Eric Hughes, said that they were not making any allegations over that incident. "We stress we are not accusing the Hull club or the player involved in Vila's latest sin-binning of any abuse," Hughes said.

Another of Saints' Samoans, Apollo Perelini, was at the centre of allegations that he had been racially abused by Leeds' Jamie Mathiou two seasons ago. The League ruled that there had been no racist intent, but banned Bramley's Anthony Gibbons for four matches after he became the first player to be sent off for racial abuse.

The former Test half-back, David Hulme, has been named as the new Widnes coach. The club sacked Colin Whitfield last week and Hulme has been in temporary control since then.

Hulme joined Widnes after being released by Salford at the end of last season and will combine playing with coaching, in which he will be assisted by John Foran, beginning with Sunday's game against Batley.

"I don't have the luxury of taking a step back from playing, because we don't have enough players," he said. "I've told the board that we need new players in and a clear-out of some we've got. But it's difficult to get the players I want."

York have put Garry Atkins in charge on a caretaker basis. Their coach, Dean Robinson, resigned earlier this week.

Halifax have signed the England A rugby union winger Jim Naylor on loan from Newcastle. His signing is part of a modest resumption of the traffic from union to league. The dual international Barrie-Jon Mather is to rejoin Castleford shortly and two current England players, Jonny Wilkinson and Mike Tindall, have said that they would like to play league.

Warrington have promoted the Frenchman Jerome Guisset to their starting line-up for their Challenge Cup semi-final against Bradford tomorrow, while Leeds give Andy Speak his first game of the season against Hull the following day.

The organisers of this year's World Cup say they will accept sworn affidavits from players or statements from ministers of religion as proof of grandparental qualification for the tournament. The original demand was for birth certificates, but some records, especially in Ireland and the South Pacific, are missing.

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