Rugby League: Larder looks to former club

Phil Larder, the Sheffield Eagles coach, got his men within minutes of yesterday's Challenge Cup deadline when he signed Martin Wood and Nick Pinkney from his former club, Keighley.

Sheffield have had to part with pounds 95,000 plus the veteran full-back Mark Gamson, one of the first players the club signed when it was set up in 1984.

Larder failed to land his other target, Widnes' utility forward Steve McCurrie, but says he is still interested in him despite missing the deadline.

Warrington have moved to counter their pre-season prop crisis by signing the Leeds forward George Mann on loan until the end of June. The club suffered a triple blow in the friendly against Salford on Sunday when they lost one front-rower, Mark Hilton, with serious shoulder damage and two others, Gary Chambers and Dallas Mead, with leg injuries.

Hilton will need an operation and could miss the whole of the Super League season, while Mead and Chambers will be out for at least two weeks, raising the fear that they could miss the start of Warrington's Challenge Cup campaign.

Having tried and failed to re-sign their former player Steve Molloy from Featherstone, Warrington switched their attention to the experienced New Zealand Test forward, who was not offered new terms at Headingley for this season.

The other major signing on a deadline day now oddly stranded in the middle of the close season saw Wigan finally able to register the Auckland Warriors back- rower Stuart Lester. Lester had been refused a work permit, but that difficulty has now been overcome.

Jon Hamer, who played for the Bradford Bulls in last year's Challenge Cup final, has completed his move to Second Division York.

Tommy Martyn has become St Helens' latest representative in the Great Britain squad for the World Nines in Townsville at the end of this month. The original selection, limited to one player per club, was Keiron Cunningham, who pulled out with a recurrence of a knee injury. Now Bobbie Goulding - in dispute with St Helens over an improved deal - has withdrawn, after originally agreeing to be Cunningham's replacement.

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