Rugby League: Broncos' challenge appeals to Wigan

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The Independent Online
WIGAN are eager to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by the Brisbane Broncos to meet them in a World Club Challenge at the end of this month, writes Dave Hadfield. The new Australian champions, with the backing of their national league, want to play the British champions at Central Park the week after the World Cup final at Wembley on 24 October.

'We would love to play them. We are due to play Sheffield that weekend, but we will move heaven and earth to get the match played,' the Wigan chairman, Jack Robinson, said. With eight players in the Australian squad, the Broncos will only need to fly out the other half of their team, and their presence would guarantee a 31,000 sell-out.

The Rugby League would have to agree to the match and, while a second major international occasion within eight days of Wembley is an exciting prospect, some doubt whether the financial, sponsorship and television details can be worked out in time. 'We have had a phone call from the Australian Rugby League and we are assessing its feasibility,' the League's spokesman, David Howes, said.

Wigan hope that the knee tendon injury that forced Martin Offiah off during the second half of their Lancashire Cup tie against Swinton on Tuesday will not prove serious. He must wait for the swelling to subside, however.

Leigh have signed the Balmain forward, John Elias, to complete their overseas quota. Elias is in line to make his debut on Sunday against a Wigan team which will be without Steve Hampson, who damaged his groin at Swinton.

Oldham, who meet Wigan in a Lancashire Cup semi-final next Tuesday, have ended a year-long quest by signing the Salford half-back, Steve Kerry, the League's leading scorer two seasons ago.

The Great Britain coach, Malcolm Reilly, is hoping for more favourable treatment from Dennis Hale, the New Zealander who will referee the World Cup final. His handling of Test series against Papua New Guinea, in 1990, and Australia this year brought British complaints. 'He has not been very kind to us in the past,' Reilly said.

The East Midlands and Students leagues have reacted to the dispute between the amateur and professional ruling bodies by disaffiliating from the British Amateur Rugby League Association.