Rugby League: Bloem is suspended for biting

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The Independent Online
HALIFAX HAVE lost their South African centre, Jamie Bloem, for three months after he became the first player in modern times to be found guilty of biting.

The 28 year old, whose past record includes a suspension for steroid abuse and a not guilty verdict on a biting charge while playing for Widnes last year, was reported after a complaint by Warrington's Lee Briers during their match on Sunday. After a one-on-one tackle Briers ran towards the touchjudge gesturing to his forearm.

The League studied the video of the incident and yesterday's disciplinary meeting imposed the long suspension, along with a pounds 250 fine.

Halifax are now considering an appeal. Their football manager, David Hobbs, said: "I wouldn't condone biting, but there was no physical, visible evidence that Briers was bitten. He made the complaint and he should have been at the hearing so that we could see any lacerations. As it was, it was all hearsay."

If the ban stands, Bloem will miss a critical series of matches for his financially-troubled club between now and the end of the season. "He's distraught," Hobbs said. "That's his season over - and he's got a young family to support."

Halifax could also lose two more players, permanently. Wigan are keen to extend their bid for Chris Chester, which is expected to be finalised today, to incorporate his half-back partner, Gavin Clinch.

There is still no place for Martin Offiah in the London Broncos' team to play at Bradford tonight, but the club has denied claims from the player's agent that he has been offered to his first club, Widnes. Their coach, Dan Stains, said that the record-breaking winger had missed training through illness and would be considered for Sunday's match against Sheffield.

The Broncos will also be without Scott Cram, who has dislocated his shoulder, and Peter Gill, who has succumbed to chronic back pain.

Struggling Doncaster have sacked their second coach in two months. Carl Sanderson and his assistant, John Hirst, were both dismissed after the 72-6 thrashing at Leigh on Sunday. They had been in charge for only eight games since taking over from Colin Maskill.

The club, bottom of the Northern Ford Premiership, have appointed the former Great Britain winger St John Ellis to one of the game's more insecure positions. Ellis, who also played for Halifax and Castleford, becomes their 10th coach this decade.

The recently-set world record for a rugby league crowd could be under threat when New South Wales meet Queensland in the second State of Origin match at Stadium Australia in Sydney today. More than 104,000 spectators attended at the new Olympic venue for the double- header to open the Australian season, but a capacity 110,000 is expected for this match.

Queensland, 1-0 up in the series, replace their captain, Adrian Lam, who has dislocated a shoulder, with Paul Green; Kevin Walters takes over as skipper. The most intriguing feature of the New South Wales side is the return of Mark Carroll, a flop at the London Broncos last year, to representative rugby at the age of 32.

The Rugby League Council will today consider at least six applications for entry into Super League next season, including bids for clubs based at Walsall and Dublin.

Michael Jackson, of Sheffield, and Wakefield's Tony Kemp have both been banned for two matches after being placed on report for high tackles.