Rugby League: Elliott fears for Fielden's rough ride

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The Independent Online
MATTHEW ELLIOTT, the Bradford coach, has called for more protection for his young forward, Stuart Fielden, warning that he could be forced out of the game by persistent head-high tackles.

Fielden was the victim of a high tackle from Vila Matautia that saw the St Helens player banned for two matches this week, but Elliott said: "This is not an isolated incident. It is something that has happened repeatedly.

"We are working on his technique to help him, but we are cautious, bearing in mind that he had a player sent from the field for having a high forearm earlier in the season."

Elliott said that Fielden will miss tomorrow's match at Wakefield and could be out for three more weeks because of the tackle. But his concerns for the 19-year-old prop are long-term and evoke comparisons with the young Australian Adam Ritson, who was obliged to retire by injuries caused by high tackling and is still suffering from the after effects.

"Adam was a similar type of player to Stuart - tough and uncompromising, but one who played totally within the rules," he said, adding that he feared young players of Fielden's potential would be lost to the game in this country unless they were better protected. Despite Ritson's fate, Elliott believes that high tackling is dealt with more severely in Australia.

The former Bradford, Featherstone and Great Britain scrum-half, Deryck Fox, has been sacked as coach of Rochdale Hornets. He was appointed last May, but Rochdale have won only six of their 18 matches this season and are three places from the bottom of the Northern Ford Premiership.

"Deryck is a great lad, but results have gone against us and we felt a change was necessary," said the club's chairman, Ray Taylor.

The assistant coaches, Ian MacCorquodale and Bob Eccles, have been placed in temporary charge, starting with tomorrow night's match against Widnes, while applications are invited for the permanent post.

Widnes, along with the proposed new clubs in Swansea, Cardiff and the West Midlands, will have to wait a little longer before learning whether their applications to join Super League have been successful.

The organisation was discussing the bids yesterday, but is still processing further information being put forward in support of their applications. Super League's managing director, Maurice Lindsay, said that they should all get their answers within two weeks.

The Wakefield forward Shaun Richardson will be unavailable for tomorrow's match against Bradford after being banned for one match for a head-butt in a reserve fixture.

Castleford will have Adrian Vowles and Francis Maloney back for their match against Salford this weekend after absences through injury.