Rugby League: Hard-up Wigan deny return of Inga

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Wigan have played down speculation that their former player, Va'aiga Tuigamala, is poised for a return to the club.

The former All Black left Wigan for Newcastle in a pounds 750,000 deal last year, but he has hinted that he would like to play league again, while Newcastle's expenditure on players of his calibre is far outstripping their income.

The Wigan chairman, Mike Nolan, said that Newcastle had so far paid pounds 150,000 of the fee for the player. "But they are not behind with their payments and we are sure they will make their next payment on time," he said.

"There has been no approach about Inga coming back to Wigan, even on a temporary contract, so it is all speculation. If he was available, we would be willing to talk about it."

One factor that could deter Wigan from entering into any more high-priced contracts in the immediate future is the debt of over pounds 4m that the club has admitted to, with losses of pounds 2.2m over the last two years.

"It is a sad story of financial mismanagement," said Nolan, who took over as chairman late last season. One possible source of income is the suggestion that their neighbours, Wigan Athletic, could move into Central Park for the 1998-9 season, while the new stadium that the two clubs will eventually share is being built in the town.

"We have had an approach from Latics and it would be a good way of getting the maximum use out of the ground," Nolan said.

The former Wigan centre, Mike Neal, who played for the now defunct Oldham Bears last season, has joined Salford as a free agent. The signing of the former Great Britain centre, Paul Loughlin, is still delayed while Salford negotiate a fee with the Bradford Bulls.