Rugby League: Leeds' clean bill of health

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The Independent Online
THE FULL scale of the London Broncos' task in the Silk Cut Challenge Cup final at Wembley on Saturday has become a little clearer with Graham Murray naming a full-strength Leeds side for Wembley. The last injury doubt was cleared up yesterday when the New Zealand Test centre, Richie Blackmore, was included in the team despite not having played since the semi-final victory over Bradford.

Blackmore has a recurring groin complaint but is confident that he will get through the match. His inclusion is important because, quite apart from an ability to break tackles in the backline, he is one of only two Leeds players with previous experience of the final, having played in the Castleford side that lost there in 1992. Francis Cummins, who played in the Leeds teams beaten by Wigan in 1994 and 1995, is the other.

The unlucky player is Marvin Golden, who was playing splendidly in the threequarter line before suffering an ankle injury. Golden made a successful comeback on Sunday, but Blackmore's return pushes him out. Murray has opted for three forwards - Lee Jackson, Jamie Mathiou and Andy Hay - alongside the utility player Marcus St Hilaire on the substitutes' bench.

Shaun Edwards said yesterday he expected to be fit to play for the Broncos. He was seeing a specialist about his broken thumb last night and said: "I'll be very disappointed if I don't play, but it's up to the coaches."

If it is any indication, Edwards came through a game of novelty rugby with two teams of women on a bouncy castle on The Big Breakfast yesterday morning. "And the tackling was pretty hard," he insisted.

The Bradford Bulls should learn today what the future holds for their ground at Odsal. The Bulls have campaigned for years for rebuilding to update the council-owned stadium and Bradford's regeneration committee is to look at proposals from seven companies who want to redevelop the site.

The Belfast-born chief executive of the Sheffield Eagles, Ralph Rimmer, has joined the Irish national squad as joint team manager.