Offiah pleased pressure is off

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The Independent Online
Martin Offiah is glad to be rid of the world record price tag he has carried for nearly four years.

Wigan's wing was a pounds 440,000 buy for the champions from Widnes in January 1992 but that fee was surpassed this week when the Test centre, Paul Newlove, joined St Helens from Bradford.

While Wigan's payment was all cash, Saints paid Bradford pounds 250,000 but also gave them three players in part payment for Newlove, making the whole transfer deal worth around pounds 500,000.

Offiah, who is just three tries away from a rugby league career total of 400, admits there is "a lot of pressure" in being the most expensive player in the game.

"Paul Newlove can have [the record]. I think it's a weight off my shoulders," he said.

The 28-year-old England and Great Britain wing said: "Fortunately for me, when I first came to Wigan it was not really a problem as things went so well for me."

Offiah was certainly an instant hit in his first few months at Central Park, underlining his reputation as one of the world's greatest try scorers with 30 in his first 16 games for Wigan.

He scored five in the Challenge Cup semi-final thrashing of Bradford, went on to win the Lance Todd Trophy at Wembley with two tries, and also touched down 10 times in the Premiership semi-final rout of Leeds.

"When you do things like that, it helps alleviate the pressure but the pressure's always there because the next thing is you have a few injuries, things do not go well and the price tag keeps coming out," he said.

Regarding the Newlove deal, he said: "It's good for rugby league and I think it's in the interests of both clubs to have a world record fee involved.

"It makes St Helens look as if they are moving heaven and earth to get the top players. And it consoles the Bradford supporters to know that if you must lose someone, at least you've lost them for more than any other player has gone for.

"Newlove is a very good player and I think probably the only English player who can command that sort of money."