Rugby League: Bell draws benefit: Surgery on hold

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DEAN BELL, the Wigan captain, may not now need the operation that threatened to keep him out of action for the remainder of his last season with the club. Bell, on the sidelines with a groin injury since October, was told last week that he needed surgery, which could keep him out until April.

'I've had a second opinion and started a course of injections,' he said. 'I'm more hopeful now, but I can't put a date on a comeback.'

Bell, who has signed to play for the newly formed Auckland Warriors next year, is annoyed that Wigan are now demanding a fee. 'I'm not happy about it, but it makes no difference to my determination to play for Wigan again before I leave,' he said.

Wigan may give Va'aiga Tuigamala his professional debut in the Challenge Cup tie against Wakefield Trinity at Central Park on 30 January. Castleford's New Zealand Test forward, Tawera Nikau, has agreed a new two-year deal.

Great Britain may lose a second player, Widnes's John Devereux, who has a back injury, from the squad for the World Sevens in Sydney next month. Sheffield Eagles' Daryl Powell is certain to be ruled out with a tendon injury when the squad take fitness tests on Monday.

David Howes, the Rugby League's public affairs executive and effective No 2, is to leave after 20 years at the headquarters in Leeds. Howes is to set up his own consultancy, but will continue to work for the League on a freelance basis.

Andre Stoop, 27, the former Wigan back, is to join London Crusaders. The ex-Namibian rugby union international arrives on Saturday from South Africa.