Rugby League: Brown is key for Salford

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The Independent Online
AFTER LEEDS' record-breaking show at Wembley, it is back, with indecent haste, to Super League action today, with teams such as Salford having far more mundane matters on their minds, writes Dave Hadfield.

Still without a win in the competition this season, they hope to welcome back Darren Brown - like Shaun Edwards a broken thumb victim - for tonight's visit by Wigan.

The Australian second-rower was looking such an inspirational figure in his admittedly brief burst of activity before his injury that his coach, Andy Gregory, hopes he will provide a much-needed lift on his return.

Gregory also hopes to have Gary Broadbent, David Hulme, and Bobby Thompson available, although his first-choice hooker, Malcolm Alker, is still out and Warren Ayres, son of the former Warrington and Wigan half-back of the same name, is in line for his first appearance.

"We're looking stronger than we've done for a long time," said Gregory. "Any side would have struggled with the number of players out that we've had, but I'm confident now that we can go out and get two points against Wigan".

With defeats in their last two matches, Gregory's old club are not exactly in prime form themselves, but Wigan are trying to get Paul Johnson back into their threequarter line to provide some of the penetration that has been lacking.

Lee Gilmour, who his coach, John Monie, believes has been suffering from a touch of "second season syndrome" is relegated to the substitute's bench.

In the day's other televised match this lunchtime, Bradford welcome back Henry and Robbie Paul from their trip to the southern hemisphere, where they made such an impression playing for New Zealand against Australia.

They will fill the half-back positions against Castleford, with David Boyle returning to the pack and Paul Deacon standing down. Nathan McAvoy is likely to retain his place in the centres after a good performance against Halifax last week.

Sheffield are without the suspended Dale Laughton at Warrington, while Hull go in search of their first win at Wakefield Trinity and Gateshead will be confident of making further progress with a full-strength team against Huddersfield.

Finally, spare a thought for the two Wembley finalists. Ludicrously, Leeds are expected to shake off their celebrations in time to play at St Helens tomorrow night and London have a day longer to prepare for Halifax.