Rugby League: Blease's career in doubt after `attack'

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Salford's longest-serving player, Ian Blease, faces having his career ended next week when he appears before a disciplinary committee accused of hitting a touch-judge.

Blease, the 32-year-old former club captain, was sent off in an Alliance team fixture against Bradford on Thursday and can expect little mercy if the charge against him is proved.

The game prides itself on a tight discipline that has made attacks on officials virtually unknown. Two players - Jason Donohue, now with Hull, and Gary Charlton, the Carlisle loose forward - were banned for life in recent times over assaults on opponents, but both sentences were later commuted.

Blease, never regarded as a dirty player during his long career, will appear before the committee on Thursday. That will scupper any plans that the Salford coach Andy Gregory might have had to take him to Australia for their first two matches in the World Club Championship.

The game's director of referees, Greg McCallum, said Blease will be charged under the section of the disciplinary code dealing with actions contrary to the interests of the sport.

"It is a very serious charge and comes at a time when we are a little concerned about behaviour towards officials," said McCallum, who is also investigating allegations that a Paris official confronted the referee, Stuart Cummings, after their recent match against London.

Salford have signed Richard Smith, the former Halifax centre who has been playing in Australia. He is added to their squad to play Bradford in one of two Super League matches tomorrow.

Saints are at Halifax tomorrow, still looking for their first victory since Wembley four weeks ago. They will be without eight regulars, through injury or suspension.

Bradford, by contrast, hope to have Robbie Paul back to full fitness tomorrow after his Wembley foot injury.