Rugby League: Aston in fall from grace

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The Independent Online
THE WINNER of the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match at Wembey in May, Mark Aston, will discover the fragility of fame tonight when he is left out of Sheffield Eagles' side to play London.

Aston was substituted against Halifax last week and for today's match, switched to Bramall Lane because of the Spice Girls' concert at the Don Valley, he is still not what his coach, John Kear, really, really wants at scrum-half.

"I wasn't pleased with him at all," said Kear. "He didn't do what he was supposed to do and, when that happens, he comes to sit with me. I suppose it's a bit of a come-down for a Lance Todd winner, but Gareth Stephens and Marcus Vasilliakopoulos will be my half-backs."

Steve Molloy is set to return for a Sheffield side now reduced to the role of trying to spoil London's bid for a play-off place, but Paul Broadbent is still likely to be missing.

Another vastly experienced scrum-half, Shaun Edwards, has to be content with a place on the London bench tonight. Edwards missed the victory over Bradford with a chest injury and his stand-in, Glen Air, staked his claim with a hat-trick of tries. The Broncos are still negotiating with Air for next season, but have agreed a new two-year deal with Shane Millard, the second-row man who arrived from Western Suburbs in mid-season. Mark Carroll misses tonight's match with a groin injury, Matt Dunford getting a rare start at prop.

Hull, who host Halifax in tonight's other match, are even more firmly under the control of David Lloyd, who now owns 75 per cent of the club.

Wigan have ended doubts about Neil Cowie's future by a agreeing a two- year contract extension with the Wales and Great Britain prop. The new deal will keep the front-row forward at the club until he is 33.

Huddersfield's caretaker-coach, Phil Veivers, who will become Malcolm Reilly's assistant there next year, has decided to retire as a player at the end of this season.

n Bill Shankland, the Australian Test centre who captained Warrington at Wembley in 1933 and 1936, has died at the age of 91. He also competed in the Open golf tournament.