Rugby League: Bulls' coach promises a potent mix

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The Independent Online
BRADFORD PRODUCED their best form of the year so far when they demolished them in the Challenge Cup, so it will come as no reassurance to Warrington tomorrow that the Bulls have five key players back on duty for the pick of this weekend's Super League fixtures.

Henry Paul - due to fly out with brother Robbie for New Zealand's Test in Sydney after the game - Michael Withers, Tevita Vaikona, Stuart Spruce and Mike Forshaw are all added to the team that looked lack-lustre in beating Wakefield last week. "It gives us a much more potent look," said their coach, Matthew Elliott, with some understatement.

Warrington, ahead of Bradford on points difference in fourth place, lost their unbeaten Super League record at Wigan last weekend, so this is a test of their ability to regroup.

They are still without their stand-off, Scott Wilson, while Danny Nutley's injury costs him an ever-present record stretching back over a year, with Gary Chambers stepping in and Andy Leatham, on loan from St Helens, making his debut from the bench.

The club's new chief executive, Peter Deakin, has achieved one of his objectives by having the ground's capacity raised to 9,000, a figure which could be tested today.

Saints, unbeaten at the top of the table, have Chris Joynt in their starting line-up for the first time in Super League, in place of Paul Davidson, who has a neck injury. Opponents Sheffield Eagles have won their last three matches to emphasise that they must be treated with respect and could have Matt Crowther and Martin Pearson in their squad at Knowsley Road.

Third-placed Castleford entertain Gateshead, who have signed the Newcastle Falcons back-rower Steve O'Neill on a short-term contract to begin after the Pilkington Cup final on 15 May.

"I think he will do well," said the Gateshead chief executive, Shane Richardson, of the player who had trials with Bradford last year. "He is a Geordie and he loves to mix it up."

The Super League new boys have their centre, Brett Grogan, back tomorrow night, with the former Featherstone full-back, Steve Collins, making his first start. Castleford - the Thunder's first ever opponents in a pre- season friendly - expect Aaron Raper to recover from an ankle injury.

Wakefield Trinity welcome back two Kiwis, Tony Kemp and Frank Watene, for the visit of London, who, with Rob Smyth still not ready, bring in Chris Ryan as the replacement for Brett Warton on the right wing. Matt Salter also returns after a lay-off through concussion.

With three of his most consistent players - Gary Broadbent, David Hulme and Malcolm Alker - all missing, the Salford coach, Andy Gregory, has little room for manoeuvre against Huddersfield. He switches Paul Carige and Bobby Thompson as the Reds look for their first Super League points.

Wigan have confirmed that they are interested in buying their rugby union neighbours, Orrell, out of administration. The club would continue to play at Edge Hall Lane, while Wigan would use the ground for training and reserve matches, but Orrell have expressed reservations about the idea.

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