Rugby League: Harsh welcome awaits Skerrett

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The Independent Online
If and when Kelvin Skerrett steps up from the substitutes' bench in the first match of Halifax's Super League season at Wigan tomorrow, he will be assured of a warm welcome from his former team-mates.

The former Great Britain prop, released by Wigan at the end of last season, has signed a one-year deal at Halifax and is in their squad for the game at Central Park.

There will be no sentiment attached to his return, however. "I've lost a lot of mates from this club," said Henry Paul, whose fellow-countryman, Va'aiga Tuigamala, has also departed. "But you always try harder against former team-mates.

"No one was worse than Kelvin at dishing it out to ex-Wigan players. So this time, Kelvin, you'll be getting some back."

Skerrett is kept on the bench at the start of the game by Karl Harrison and Wayne Jackson, but he is sure to figure later in the match.

Halifax's caretaker coaches, David Hobbs and Tony Anderson, have John Schuster back in action, but Wigan's Eric Hughes has a series of doubts.

Jason Robinson will be given until today to recover from an ankle injury. That remains unlikely and there must be a serious risk attached if Gary Connolly plays his first match since damaging his knee during his stint with Harlequins.

Shaun Edwards has not been considered because of his absence on father- to-be duties and Craig Murdock will be at scrum-half, with Hughes assuring him that there is still a place at the club for him even if he succeeds in signing Castleford's Tony Smith.

Salford, who play Castleford in their first Super League match following last year's promotion, will be without two of their experienced recent recruits, Andy Platt and David Hulme. Two young forwards, Paul Southern and Craig Randall, come into the side.

The champions, St Helens, whose on-off pursuit of Warrington's Iestyn Harris stepped up a notch yesterday, go to London Broncos without Derek McVey, who is hoping to recover from a cracked bone in his wrist in time for next Saturday's Challenge Cup semi-final against Salford.

Chris Morley deputises, while Lee Briers continues to stand in at scrum- half for the suspended Bobbie Goulding.

The Broncos have Martin Offiah back in harness, but have a worry over their Great Britain tourist, Tulsen Tollett, who has a shoulder injury.

Leeds will have their influential hooker, Wayne Collins, back against Oldham, who hope to be unchanged if their centre, Vince Fawcett, has recovered from mumps.

Work permit problems have delayed the arrival of the new Wigan signing Paul Koloi, the 24-year-old Tongan centre. Koloi, who starred for his country in the World Nines in Australia, is earmarked as a replacement for Tuigamala, now back in rugby union with Newcastle.