Offiah linked with union

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The Independent Online
Rugby League


Wigan will oppose plans which are being mooted for Martin Offiah to play for Newcastle, or one of the other potentially interested rugby union clubs, next winter.

Offiah's agent, Alan McColm, is tipping wealthy and ambitious Newcastle as a likely temporary home for the player who has become league's most prolific try-scorer since joining Widnes from Rosslyn Park in 1987.

"I would not be at all surprised to see Martin playing half a dozen matches at St James' Park next winter," he said.

McColm is also involved with Bath and Harlequins - two other possible destinations for a player who was never seen in his full maturity in union.

"He still has something to prove in rugby union," McColm said. A spokesman for Newcastle said that they had no knowledge of any approach to Offiah.

"We are always linked with someone," he said. "Last week it was Denis Chavez."

One league international, the Widnes winger, John Devereux, has already signed to play for Sale next winter, but Wigan would be loath to see Offiah, for whom they paid pounds 440,000 four years ago, follow in his footsteps.

"We would not be keen on him doing it this year," said their chairman, Jack Robinson. "Our players are all paid all year round and they will have played a lot of non-stop rugby.

"In the future, it is something that could be considered."

Robinson also ruled out any loans of players to Orrell, who are due to play matches at Central Park this winter, until next year.

Wigan expect soon to finalise a deal with the Western Reds in Perth that will allow Barrie-Jon Mather to resume his career.

A bid of pounds 50,000 from the Australian club has already been rejected. "But we have now worked out a method of payment that should satisfy both of us," Robinson said.

A meeting of the Council today is likely to approve a proposal for Super League clubs' chief executives that players in that competition should wear squad numbers this summer.

Blackpool Gladiators will also make a last attempt to win a place in the Second Division for the coming season. The League's board of directors is recommending that they should remain in the Alliance League, but Blackpool believe that recent results, their plans for their ground and the advantages of summer rugby by the seaside all argue in their favour.

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