Rugby League: Bronco's Sailor expected to berth at Wigan

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The Independent Online
Wigan are set to sign the Brisbane and Australia wing or full- back, Wendell Sailor, in one of the biggest international transfers the game has seen.

The club has scheduled a press conference for this afternoon, at which it is intended to unveil the recruitment of one of the world's most exciting players for the 1999 season onwards.

The 23-year-old Sailor has one year left on his contract with the Broncos, but is in Britain negotiating a deal to follow on from that.

The Wigan chairman, Mike Nolan, would not confirm the identity of the new signing, but said: "It is a big one and we have a handshake."

Sailor, who has won six caps for Australia - including all three Tests in last November's series in Britain - will represent a major outlay for Wigan at a time when a salary cap is due to come into force. The club is getting financial help from the sports company, JJB, whose chairman, Dave Whelan, is the new power behind the throne at Central Park.

The club's international quota is currently full, but there will be a vacancy when Henry Paul comes off the quota with a residential qualification next year.

Wigan are also poised to appoint their former player Phil Clarke as chief executive, replacing Dave Bradshaw, who is being offered severance terms. Clarke's playing career, which included 16 caps for Great Britain, ended in 1996, when he fractured neck vertebrae playing for Sydney City in Australia, but he is still only 26, remarkably young for such a role. Clarke could be in his new job next week.

Warrington have completed the signing of Brendon Tuuta from Castleford and have also enlisted his former team-mate, the winger Jason Roach.

Oldham, the club set up in the wake of the collapse of the Oldham Bears, will travel to Widnes in the third round of the Silk Cut Challenge Cup, if they can first beat the amateurs of Heworth in an extra qualifying match at Boundary Park on 18 January. Oldham were originally omitted from the draw, because of doubts over whether there would be a club to fulfil the fixture, but were added after several amateur sides volunteered to meet them.

In a draw which otherwise keeps amateur and professional clubs apart, the minnows with the best chance of going through are West Hull - victors over both Highfield and York in the 1996 competition - who go to Preston to play Lancashire Lynx.

The Rugby League Professional Players' Association is challenging the right of three Australian players to work permits for the coming season. The association believes that the Hunter Mariners half-back, Craig Kimmorley, who is due to join Hull, Des Clark, the Gold Coast forward who has signed for Halifax, and Shane Wilson, who is earmarked to join Widnes from South Sydney, all failed to make enough first-team appearances last year to qualify.