Rugby League: Injured Edwards may risk final

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The Independent Online
SHAUN EDWARDS could face permanent damage if he defies medical advice and plays in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley on 1 May.

The London Broncos' captain and scrum-half broke his thumb during the semi-final victory over Castleford and has been told that he should be out of action for two or three months.

Neither he nor his coach, Dan Stains, have finally ruled out his participation, however. "I could play with it strapped up and with pain-killing injections, but it is a risk," Edwards said.

The veteran of 10 previous Cup finals has made astonishing recoveries from injuries that have threatened to keep him out of big matches before, but the stakes this time are higher, with the danger of long-term harm as well as of not being able to handle the ball properly.

The Castleford referee, Russell Smith, is to take charge of his third Wembley final, the Rugby League has announced. The referees' director, Greg McCallum, said that Smith's appointment for London's meeting with Leeds was a reward for outstanding performances last year, which have continued this season.

Stuart Cummings, himself a Cup final referee on three occasions, had pushed Smith close for the role, McCallum also revealed.

The final will be the first to feature a video referee, with the increasingly important job going to David Asquith.