Rugby League: Hanley plans to check mate at Broncos

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The Independent Online
CHESS OPPONENTS Dan Stains and Ellery Hanley will pit their wits and strategy against each other on the rugby field for the first time tonight. Stains, the London Broncos coach, and Hanley, who has guided St Helens to the top of Super League, are firm friends from their time together as players at the Sydney club, Balmain.

That friendship has been spiced with rivalry over the chessboard. "When we started, Ellery always used to win, but I caught up and now it's pretty even," Stains said. "We managed a game in Leeds on Sunday night, but that was pretty relaxed because we're both a bit rusty.

"We spent a lot of time together at Balmain and played a lot of chess. He's first-class, a high-quality person in every area of his life, so it's no surprise to me that he's making a success of his coaching."

Despite the strong link between the two coaches, there will be no sacrificed pawns at The Stoop tonight, with the Broncos needing to bounce back from their first defeat of the season, at Headingley on Monday.

Stains has three forwards ready to return - Peter Gill, Robbie Beazley and Robbie Simpson - but loses Dean Callaway with a knee strain and Matt Salter with the after-effects of concussion as London try to beat Saints for the first time in their history.

"We're looking forward to the challenge of St Helens," he insisted. "They're a big, strong, powerful side with a lot of speed and we'll have to be at our best against them."

As if to emphasise the talent Hanley has available, he can recall Paul Newlove tonight after the Great Britain centre missed the impressive win over Bradford with a dead leg. Club captain Chris Joynt could also be fit for his first Super League appearance of the season, but Saints' forwards have performed so well in his absence that he might have to ease his way back via the substitutes' bench.

Wigan will be without Greg Florimo and Kris Radlinski for the visit of Warrington on Sunday, after both suffered injuries in the victory at Wakefield on Monday. With scrum-halves Tony Smith and Mark Reber still absent, John Monie could field the oddest-looking Wigan half-back pairing for many years - Andy Farrell and Jason Robinson.

The Workington forward, Paul Forber, has been suspended for five matches after being cited for the deliberate use of the forearm.