Sponsorship deal gives Giants cause to celebrate

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The Independent Online

Huddersfield-Sheffield, who are preparing for this weekend's Silk Cut Challenge Cup tie against Bradford, have celebrated a major cash boost and re-stated their commitment to the city that forms the second half of their hyphenated title.

Huddersfield-Sheffield, who are preparing for this weekend's Silk Cut Challenge Cup tie against Bradford, have celebrated a major cash boost and re-stated their commitment to the city that forms the second half of their hyphenated title.

The Giants have clinched a £100,000, one-year sponsorship deal with the financial services company Friends Provident, which also backs Southampton football club.

The club has also specified three home games - against Leeds, Castleford and Wakefield - that will be played at Bramall Lane this summer, despite a growing feeling that the revival of a stand-alone Sheffield club will eventually see the merged operation concentrate exclusively on Huddersfield.

Meanwhile, two former Sheffield players, Daio Powell and Darren Turner, are out of the match at Odsal after surgery during the close season.

All nine televised ties in the Challenge Cup, including the final at Murrayfield on 29 April, will use a big screen inside the stadium for replays of important moments. The screen has been part of Sky Sports' coverage of Super League games for several years, but this marks a technological step forward for the game's oldest competition.

"With so much at stake in matches of this quality, we need to utilise every technological facility available to help our officials make the most accurate decision possible," said the Rugby League's director of referees, Greg McCallum.

Super League is still looking for a title sponsor, with less than a month to go before the start of the new season. JJB's two-year deal lapsed at the end of last season and negotiations with other companies have so far failed to come up with a replacement.

"We are still out there battling and hopefully there will be an outcome before the start of the season," said Super League's acting managing director, Ian Robson, who added that there would not be a levy on clubs to meet central expenses, even if it cannot find a sponsor.

Barry Eaton of Dewsbury is the first Northern Ford Premiership player of the month for the season, after playing a crucial role from scrum-half in taking the Rams to the top of the table. Oldham are the first team of the month.

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