Rugby League: Central Park stay coy over Koloi

Rugby League
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Wigan have appealed for their new arrival, Paul Koloi, to be given time to show what he has to offer. The 24-year-old Tongan centre, who impressed the Wigan captain, Andy Farrell, in the World Nines in Townsville this February, has been touted as a replacement for Va'aiga Tuigamala.

"That's pretty daunting," Koloi said. "Inga's a legend and I just want to play as well as I can in my own right."

The Wigan coach, Eric Hughes, agrees with that approach. "It's just not fair to the lad to compare him with Tuigamala," he said. "Even Inga needed time to prove himself and we hope that Paul will be given that time and patience that he will need as well. In the case of recent signings like Stuart Lester and Doc Murray, we have to throw them straight in, but now we are a bit stronger and we can afford to be patient."

Neither Lester nor Murray, who like Koloi came from playing their rugby in New Zealand, have made an instant impact at Central Park. Lester, in fact, was on the point of being hived off to another British club which had shown interest in him until he started to put some convincing form together in the reserves.

Koloi, who has been playing for the Canterbury Cardinals in Christchurch, rates his illusive running and ability to keep the ball alive as his best attributes.

"Initially, I see him as cover for the centre and wing positions," Hughes said. "If he makes an immediate impression, then all the better."

Provided he gets over his jetlag, Koloi will start his Wigan career in the Alliance fixture at home to Halifax tonight. He becomes the second Tongan in swift succession to arrive at the club, with Lee Hansen, signed from Widnes last month, making an impressive full debut against London last Friday and certain to hold his place in the first team at Halifax this Sunday.

St Helens have vehemently denied offering their captain, Bobbie Goulding, to Warrington in a bid to persuade them to part with their Great Britain forward, Paul Sculthorpe.

"Bobbie remains the kingpin of our set-up and our efforts to retain the Super League title," said the Saints' chief executive, David Howes.

"We did make an inquiry for Sculthorpe but were told that he was on a four-year contract and was not available. We now regard the matter as closed."