Rugby League: Bradford to unite Pauls

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The Independent Online
BRADFORD ARE poised to announce the signing of Henry Paul this week, setting up a brotherly half-back pairing that will revive the optimism at the club after the disappointments of this season.

Paul is to leave Wigan after four successful years, because they cannot meet his pay expectations within their salary cap. The Bulls, already home to the younger Paul brother, Robbie, have already met him without a deal being announced. But their continuing struggles on the pitch - they have lost five of their last six games and could miss out on the play-offs after ending last season as champions - have made them redouble their efforts.

Paul has a number of other options, with Hull, London and Sheffield all linked with him, as well as his home-town club, the Auckland Warriors. There is also the possible avenue of rugby union - he played for Bath two years ago - but Bradford are the strong favourites to end all those uncertainties this week.

Paul himself claimed at the weekend that his future was still unresolved. "Bradford may be the obvious choice, but it's not a question of what's best for Robbie. It's a matter of what's best for me," he said.

Meanwhile, the Wigan coach, John Monie, has revealed that Paul and his management told him that the player did not want to stay at the club when they met last week. "We didn't even get to first base, and I didn't want to keep a player here who didn't want to stay," he said.

The Rugby League is to take no further action against the Leeds prop Jamie Mathiou for directing a racial slur at St Helens' Apollo Perelini during their match last Friday.

The Saints coach, Shaun McRae, complained about the insult after the game, but after consultation with his own players did not want to take the matter any further. The League's chief executive, Neil Tunnicliffe, met Mathiou and the Leeds chief executive, Gary Hetherington, yesterday.

"Jamie denies being a racist, but he admitted making an inappropriate remark in the heat of the battle," said Tunnicliffe. "He now deeply regrets that this incident took place. I have reminded him of his responsibilities and of the seriousness with which the RFL views proven offences of this nature."

Mathiou, an Australian, is understood to have called Perelini "a Kiwi ****". That might not be very cordial but it falls well short of the offence of racial abuse for which the Bramley player, Anthony Gibbons, was banned for four matches earlier this season.

The Sheffield Eagles coach, John Kear, has apologised for his public criticism of the match officials after his side's game at Leeds and has been issued with a formal reprimand.