Rugby League: Branson's dilemma over duty

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The Independent Online
THE LONDON BRONCOS have given up hope of having their new prop forward, Anthony Seibold, on duty for Wembley, but they will not let their chairman off as lightly. The club yesterday withdrew its application for special exemption for Seibold to play on 1 May, despite his having being signed after the Challenge Cup deadline.

There was no support for retrospective measures to allow Seibold to play, although the Rugby League Council is to look at the whole question of cup registration, now that the competition falls early in a summer season. Any change will come too late for the former Canberra front-rower, however.

Meanwhile, like a pair of reluctant dancing partners, Richard Branson and Shaun Edwards were trying to persuade each other to take the lead at Wembley. Branson, the club's chairman, has been reluctant to adopt the ceremonial role of leading out the side.

Yesterday, he urged Edwards, the London captain, who is unlikely to be able to play because of a broken thumb, to show the team the route from dressing-room to pitch that he knows so well from his 10 previous finals.

However, at the Broncos' pre-Wembley press conference, Edwards intervened on a phone link to the holidaying Branson to tell him in no uncertain terms that it was his job.

"We will be massive underdogs against Leeds and this is not a time to be indecisive," Edwards told him. "We'll make the decision for you. Lead us out at Wembley."

Branson is now likely to do so, but the Broncos are to apply to the Rugby League for the club's vice-chairman, David Hughes, to accompany him.

In further emotional scenes, the London coach, Dan Stains, broke down in tears when he talked of the club's achievement in reaching its first Cup final.

Wigan have brought their spending on players' wages down below their salary cap limit and have had the money withheld by the League last season refunded.

Doncaster, bottom of the Northern Ford Premiership, have failed in an audacious attempt to sign their former player, Vila Matautia, on loan from St Helens. The new Doncaster coach, Carl Sanderson, hoped to add the Samoan forward to his squad, but Saints' Ellery Hanley says that he still figures in his plans.

Sanderson has succeeded in signing Joe Naidole from Hunslet, while Doncaster's new owners have had membership of the League transferred to them until the end of this season.

The former Great Britain captain and assistant coach at St Helens until this season, Mike Gregory, has returned to club coaching after being appointed to work alongside Les Holliday at Swinton, only four places above Doncaster in the Premiership's lower reaches.