Rugby League: Broncos want Ward after Dooley blow

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COLIN WARD, a member of St George-Illawarra's Grand Final side, is the man the London Broncos want to complete their pack for the coming season. The Broncos were ready to sign the Sydney City prop Justin Dooley but have been approached by Ward's manager and are keen to enlist him instead.

"There is some doubt over whether Dooley played enough games last season to qualify for a work permit, but there is no problem with Ward and he is a very experienced player," said the London coach, John Monie.

The Leeds captain, Iestyn Harris, has given his new coach, Dean Lance, much of the credit for his decision to turn down a massive offer from Welsh rugby union and stay at Headingley. Harris yesterday agreed to a new four-year contract to supersede the remaining two seasons of his current one. "We have a new coach and I want to be part of it," said Harris. "I turned down a more lucrative deal in Welsh rugby union and I'm happy with my decision."

The deal will keep Harris at Headingley beyond his 27th birthday, although he could in theory play in the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup and says that he has not shut the door on playig the code at some stage.

The club's chief executive, Gary Hetherington, said: "There is only one Iestyn Harris and his commitment to the Rhinos is a major boost to our fans as he would have been impossible to replace."

The Wakefield Trinity coach, Andy Kelly, has hailed his new signing, Paul Sampson, as the finishing touch for his squad in 2000. The Wasps wing or full-back, an England squad member, has signed a two-year deal at Belle Vue.

Only 17,500 tickets are still available to the general public for the Silk Cut Challenge Cup final at Murrayfield in April. Each finalist will get 15,000 and a further 20,000 of the stadium's 67,500 have already been sold.

The decision to take the showpiece to Edinburgh because of the impending redevelopment of Wembley now looks like being vindicated with a full house. "We were always confident that league followers would be excited by the prospect of playing the Challenge Cup final at Murrayfield," said the Rugby League's chief executive, Neil Tunnicliffe. "It looks like being a very exciting day in Scotland for our sport."

A decision will need to be made soon on whether the 2001 final will be at Twickenham or the National Stadium in Cardiff.

More immediately, the League will rule today on whether to offer a wild card to one of this year's third-round losers in order to bring the number of clubs in the fourth round up to 32.