Rugby League: Farrell fit for Odsal exam

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The Independent Online
ANDY FARRELL will maintain his record of playing in every possible match in Super League in one of the big set-pieces of the season at Odsal tonight, writes Dave Hadfield. The Wigan loose forward has played in all 77 rounds of the competition since it began in 1996, but feared that he might miss the game with Bradford. Farrell could not kick comfortably against Huddersfield last Sunday because of a sore ankle and he has not been able to train this week.

He is, however, confident that he can get through a match that pits third- placed Wigan against the side immediately above them in the table. He is named in the starting line-up alongside Greg Florimo, who has been struggling with a knee injury, but Gary Connolly is only fit enough to be listed among the possible substitutes.

Henry Paul will confront his old Wigan team-mates for the first time since his move last winter, hoping to maintain his fine form so far this season.

The Bulls are without Tevita Vaikona for the next month with a groin injury and Bernard Dwyer is not yet ready to return, but Paul Anderson is back.

Today also sees Salford, who won their first Super League match of the season against London last week, at Sheffield, the side they knocked out of the Challenge Cup, but the other big game of the weekend is at St Helens.

The Super League leaders answered a lot of questions about their temperament in bouncing back from defeat by Wakefield at Castleford in midweek. They face potentially tricky opponents again tomorrow in fifth-placed Warrington.

Hull's coach, Peter Walsh, said last week that his team's performances over the next two games would decide his future. There was little sign of any improvement in the defeat at Gateshead on Wednesday night, so tomorrow's game at home to Castleford represents a last chance for Walsh and his players to show that there is something to be gained by sticking together.

Two of the sides that Hull and Salford could hope to overhaul, Huddersfield and Wakefield, meet at the McAlpine Stadium, while London - who have dropped Martin Offiah - must improve dramatically on last week's dismal form if they are to beat Gateshead.

Kerrod Walters, the Gateshead captain, will be back after an absence of two weeks spent with his wife, who had been involved in a road accident in Thailand.