Rugby League: Broncos ready to block Sailor's proposed move to Wigan

Wigan face a battle with the Brisbane Broncos to get Wendell Sailor into their colours before the year 2000. The Australian Test winger was unveiled as a Wigan player for the 1999 and 2000 seasons this week, but Brisbane, who have him under contract for this year and an option on him for next, say they will fight to keep him.

Shane Edwards, the Broncos' chief executive, said that there was no release clause in Sailor's contract with the club. "He is with us this year and we have an option for 1999 which we will be enforcing," he said. "Wendell knows that."

Sailor flew to England to find himself a new club without the knowledge of the club or even of his own manager. Edwards expressed his anger at Wigan negotiating with the player without any reference to the Broncos.

Brisbane have a record of allowing players to move on when they feel the time is right. But they blocked Kevin Walters' attempt to move to North Queensland last year and made it clear that they have no intention of letting Sailor, who is only 23, depart prematurely.

There is lingering bad blood between the two clubs over the 1994 World Club Championship in Brisbane, a game for which Wigan claim not to have been paid in full. That could make it even less likely that Brisbane will release Sailor for 1999, although the player has hinted that he would be prepared to test the legality of the option clause in court.

The alternative is that Wigan fans would have to wait until the millennium to see him in their side. He would still be only 25.

The London Broncos are being linked in Australia with one of the few other players who ranks with Sailor as a matchwinner: the Test second row Steve Menzies. London are close to finalising the signing of one of the world's best props, Mark Carroll, and Menzies, his team-mate for both Manly and Australia, has also been mentioned.

The Broncos' chief executive, Tony Rea, said: "I know where the name has come from, but I wouldn't expect to see him at London this season."

Menzies has been a prodigious try-scorer for both club and country and ambitious London have put down a marker for him, if and when he wants to come to Britain.

"Top Australian players no longer want to come to England when they are past their best," Rea said. "They want to come when they are at their peak."

Eric Ashton has resigned as chairman of St Helens, citing machinations by other board members as his reason for leaving. The former Wigan and Great Britain captain has been in the chair at Knowsley Road for four years, but said: "I can't work with people I can't trust." He is replaced by Tom Ellard.

Warrington's new Australian hooker, Danny Farrar, is to take over as club captain from Paul Sculthorpe, who has been sold to Saints.