Rugby League: Leeds deny making move for Offiah

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The Independent Online
LEEDS have strongly denied that they are making a move to sign Martin Offiah from Wigan before Monday's Challenge Cup deadline.

Speculation was rife, on the eve of Va'aiga Tuigamala's arrival from New Zealand, that Wigan were preparing to unload the winger they signed for a world-record pounds 440,000 from Widnes two years ago.

'Any suggestion that he is coming to Leeds is balderdash and poppycock,' said the Leeds coach, Doug Laughton, who brought Offiah into the game in 1987. 'We have skint ourselves signing Harvey Howard, so it just doesn't stack up.'

Offiah's name has, however, come up in informal conversation between the clubs, I understand. Laughton echoed the belief of many in the game when he said: 'It may be that Wigan are trying to unload him.'

The Wigan coach, John Dorahy, who dropped Offiah as a disciplinary measure earlier this season, said that he had no knowledge of any such intention. 'From my point of view, I certainly hope not,' he said. 'I've spoken to Martin this week and told him that I want him to be here to score his 600th try.'

Offiah has scored more than 300 tries in his six prolific years in the game, but one theory is that Wigan would see him as an expensive luxury with the arrival of Tuigamala.

Offiah himself denies any approach from Leeds. 'I'm getting paid well at Wigan at the moment and I'm happy to play there,' he said. 'If a situation arises that they want me to move and other clubs are interested, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.'

Dewsbury have been fined pounds 500 for refusing to play their Boxing Day derby against Batley on the pitch the two clubs currently share. The match was delayed for 90 minutes to enable the pitch to thaw, but Dewsbury refused to comply with the referee's ruling that it was fit for play.

The League is to clamp down on verbal abuse of match officials, following the decision to impose a suspended pounds 100 fine on Wakefield Trinity's football chairman, Stuart Farrar, for making abusive comments to the referee, Russell Smith, after a game at Salford last month.

London Crusaders' Second Division match against Keighley on Sunday has been switched to Hendon Football Club because their Copthall Stadium is waterlogged.