Rugby League: Edwards still has Wembley in sights

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The Independent Online
FEARS THAT Shaun Edwards could miss his 11th Wembley cup final have eased, with his thumb now thought to be badly bruised rather than being broken. Edwards captained the London Broncos to victory over Castleford in their semi-final last Saturday, despite needing a pain-killing injection in his hand at the half-time interval.

"It is still very sore and swollen, but we don't think it's broken," said the London coach, Dan Stains. "We still want him to go for an X-ray, because we don't want to take any risks with him."

The Broncos have also had better news about their man of the match, Steele Retchless, who could not see through one eye after the match.

"He has previously had a laser operation on his cornea and got an accidental finger in the eye during the match," said Stains. "He was a lot better yesterday and was able to train with us." Stains will have another prop, Anthony Seibold, available for the match against Hull on Good Friday, after being signed too late to play in the cup competition.

The club could also revive last season's interest in the Featherstone front-rower, Stuart Dickens. Daryl Powell, who has never played in a Wembley final in a career almost as long as that of Edwards, is Leeds' big concern in the build-up to this one. The veteran stand-off left the field with a foot injury during his side's victory over Bradford on Sunday and misses the return between the two clubs for Super League points on Thursday.

Karl Pratt or Kevin Sinfield stand by to deputise, while Marvin Golden will come in for Richie Blackmore, who has a recurrence of his groin injury.

St Helens, preparing to meet Wigan on Friday, have signed their promising young half-back, Scott Barrow, to an improved two-year contract. Barrow was a transfer target for Wigan before they switched their attentions to the Lancashire Lynx's Phil Jones, who joined them at the weekend.

Ikram Butt, the only Asian to play for England, has joined the Bradford staff, with responsibility for developing the game within the city. Butt retired last season after a playing career that included stints with Featherstone and London, as well as an international call-up against Wales in 1995. Bradford have a strong record of taking the code to their local community and the appointment of Butt shows that they do not intend to neglect the sizeable Asian population of the area.

Super League is to have its own slot on terrestrial television for the first time. From 10 May and on every Monday for the rest of the season, BBC2 will show a half hour, early evening package of the previous weekend's action.

A title and a presentation team for the programme, which will be screened in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumbria and the North-East, has yet to be announced. It was hailed as a major step forward by Super League's managing director, Maurice Lindsay, who recognises that some free-to-air coverage is needed to complement the two live matches every weekend on Sky.