Harris and Paul to stay loyal to code

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The Independent Online
Two of the British game's leading young players have gone against the prevailing tide by saying that they do not intend to play rugby union this winter.

Warrington's Iestyn Harris and Robbie Paul of the Bradford Bulls have been linked with moves to union clubs, but both have denied that any switch of codes is in their immediate plans. Harris, left out of Warrington's side for the last month of the season and ordered to stay away from their Wilderspool ground, has had approaches from a number of union clubs.

But the Welsh stand-off, transfer-listed at a world record pounds 1.35m, says his priority is to have a successful tour with Great Britain this autumn and then hope for a move to a Super League club. Warrington's football executive, Alex Murphy, said that Harris had told them, through his solicitor, that he had no intention of playing union.

Paul has denied that he is to follow his older brother, Wigan's Henry Paul, into a rugby union loan arrangement by signing a winter contract with Harlequins. "It's the first I've heard about it," the New Zealander said. "Anyway, I'm a league boy through and through."

Paul would not rule out dabbling in union at some stage but, unlike his brother, he would be available for selection for New Zealand against Great Britain in the three-Test series in October and November.

Great Britain's coach, Phil Larder, is to study videos of Barrie-Jon Mather's performances for the Western Reds in Australia as he mulls over the need for replacements for the tour.

Larder is concerned about the likelihood of losing Gary Connolly and Jason Robinson to the ARL's blocking tactics, as well as about Paul Newlove's foot injury, and he will check Mather's form as well as monitoring British- based candidates.

The St Helens coach, Shaun McRae, has turned down an invitation to assist New Zealand in the series, as he did in the World Cup last year.

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