Rugby League: Gregory eager to be a Devil

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The Independent Online
ANDY GREGORY will today join the lengthening list of players who were supposed to be part of the solution at Leeds but who have departed after becoming part of the problem.

Midway through his third and, probably, final season at Headingley, the Leeds coach, Doug Laughton, has not only dismantled the side he inherited. He has also disposed of a high proportion of the players he brought in himself, with Gregory joining Bobby Goulding, Mick Worrall and Andy Goodway, and is no closer to finding a combination that can compete at the top level.

Gregory, who makes his second appearance for Salford at Hull KR this afternoon, 15 years after playing a trial for the Red Devils before joining Widnes, is relieved to be away. He has no complaint about his treatment by the club's directors or supporters, but at the end of his 15 months at Headingley found himself at odds with other senior players.

There are two he describes as having stabbed him in the back. Indeed, the need to unload Gregory might be one of the very few things on which those two players agree. But that is the Leeds way; everyone agrees that things are going wrong, but everyone also believes that the answer is for someone else to leave.

In all probability, Leeds's run of seven matches without a victory will end this afternoon against Leigh, but that doleful sequence is a symptom of the disease rather than the disease itself. At least within the next few weeks, they should have Garry Schofield and Ellery Hanley back in their side, but a worrying fact for Leeds is that they have no reserve strength to speak of. Perhaps the most shocking statistic of all at Leeds is that their Alliance side have won just once this season.

None of this is Gregory's problem any more. 'I'm sorry it didn't work out for me at Leeds and I don't feel that I played as consistently well there as I would have liked,' he says. 'But it's history now. I'm looking forward at Salford to playing to a pattern much more like we had at Wigan.'

Becoming more like Wigan has been Leeds's declared aim, so it is ironic that Gregory should feel comfortable at a club who are one off the foot of the First Division. 'Someone said to me when I signed that, if I'd joined them 15 years ago, I could have had a testimonial at Salford by now,' says Gregory.

TODAY'S FIXTURES: Stones Bitter Championship: Featherstone v Hull (3.30); Hull KR v Salford (3.15); Leeds v Leigh (3.0); Oldham v St Helens (3.0); Wakefield v Halifax (3.30); Warrington v Castleford (3.0); Widnes v Sheffield (3.0). Second Division: Barrow v Rochdale (2.30); Batley v Keighley (3.15); Bramley v London Crusaders (3.30); Huddersfield v Carlisle (3.30); Hunslet v Workington (3.30); Ryedale York v Dewsbury (3.15); Swinton v Doncaster (3.0); Whitehaven v Highfield (3.30).