Rugby League: Bulls could be without captain for final

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The Independent Online
The Bradford Bulls face a battle to have Robbie Paul, their captain, available for the Stones Premiership final, if they qualify for the Old Trafford showpiece on 28 September.

New Zealand have called up Paul for the Test against Australia two days earlier. While it might be theoretically possible for Paul to be back in Britain in time for the final, travelling to and from the southern hemisphere would rule him out.

Bradford gave Paul their blessing to play in the Test between the two countries in April, but they would be reluctant to let him go this time.

Their coach, Matthew Elliott, has attacked the timing of the Test, and it does appear to be a case of Super League on one side of the world not knowing what it is doing on the other.

The Bulls first have to negotiate a quarter-final against Castleford this Sunday, followed by a home semi-final the following weekend.

In the meantime, they will be trying to persuade the Kiwi coach, Frank Endacott - a late convert to the talents of Paul - to manage without him this time.

Two of Paul's Bradford team-mates are in the running for the Super League Player of the Year award, to be announced in two weeks' time.

James Lowes and Graeme Bradley have been nominated by the votes of their fellow professionals, along with Wigan's Andy Farrell, who is virtually certain to be named Great Britain captain for the Test series against Australia.

Elliott is, not surprisingly, in line for the Coach of the Year title, along with Tony Currie of the London Broncos and Salford's Andy Gregory.

The three contenders for Young Player of the Year are Danny Orr of Castleford, Warrington's Lee Briers and Tony Martin of London.

Martin Offiah has agreed a new contract with London, which will keep him there for another two seasons, with the option of an extension after that.

John Cartwright, Salford's Australian second-row, says he is "95 per cent certain" to sign a new deal which will bring him back to the club next season.

Steve Molloy, the Featherstone and Great Britain prop, has failed in his attempt to be declared a free agent. Molloy, who toured the Pacific with the Test squad last year, claimed there had been delays in his contract payments, but a Rugby League tribunal ruled yesterday that there had been no fundamental breach.

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