St Helens invest in Hoppe's experience

The Super League champions, St Helens, have signed the former New Zealand Test winger Sean Hoppe on a two- year contract.

The Super League champions, St Helens, have signed the former New Zealand Test winger Sean Hoppe on a two- year contract.

Hoppe came to the club on a short-term deal at the end of last season, playing mainly in the unfamiliar role as a replacement back-row forward, as he did in the Grand Final win over Bradford. "Sean is a proven international player whose experience and versatility will be beneficial," said the Saints vice-chairman, Mal Kay.

Hoppe, who joins up with Saints' close-season recruits, Darrall Trindall and his former Auckland team-mate Bryan Henare, scored a record 17 tries in 33 Tests for the Kiwis.

Castleford have decided against retaining the Fijian prop James Pickering and are releasing him midway through a two-year contract. Pickering made only one start in Super League last season, although he was a substitute 16 times. "With him being such a big man, he found it difficult to regain full fitness," said the club's chief executive, Richard Wright.

Leeds have confirmed that they will play all next season's home Super League matches on Friday evenings apart from the game against Salford on 1 May.

The meeting of the game's International Federation in March will rule on the car-park brawl following the Lebanon versus United States World Cup qualifier that resulted in an American player being taken to hospital. Reports have been received from the team managements and it appears that outsiders were also involved.

The Australian Schoolboys side start their latest tour in Dublin today with a fixture against a Student Rugby League Chairman's XIII. The tourists play Tests at Widnes and Hull against a Great Britain and Ireland Young Lions side that will include several players with Super League experience.

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