Rugby League: Leeds duo's test of fitness

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ANDY HAY and Marvin Golden will both be given their chance this weekend to show that they are fit enough to take their places in Leeds' squad for the Silk Cut Challenge Cup final, writes Dave Hadfield.

Both feared that their chances of playing at Wembley had disappeared with recent injuries, but their coach, Graham Murray, is preparing to give them a run-out against Huddersfield on Sunday.

"I felt my ankle click and I thought my Cup final chances had gone," said Golden, who was showing excellent form in the centres before his ligament injury. "But I've trained on it and although it's sore I think I'll be all right."

The same applies to Hay, the incisive back-row forward who has had an operation to pin a broken thumb. "I'm going to play with it strapped up and hope for the best," he said.

If both come through safely, it will give Murray a wide range of selection options when he names his Wembley team next Tuesday.

Although Ritchie Blackmore will not play at Huddersfield because of his long-standing groin problem, he too is confident of being available for the final.

Daryl Powell is still concerned about his calf injury, but he will play at Huddersfield and Murray expects him to be able to add his experience to the Wembley mix.

With their first-choice half-backs, Henry and Robbie Paul, away in Australia to play for New Zealand in their Test today, the Bradford Bulls coach, Matthew Elliott, will field a new combination at the heart of his team against Halifax tonight. Paul Deacon comes in at scrum-half as expected, but Elliott has hinted strongly that he will use David Boyle, usually a second-row forward, at stand-off.

"I have total confidence in the ability of Paul Deacon to play at scrum half and I have used David Boyle at stand-off before," Elliott said. "People didn't see the best of him in that position but I know he will do the job for me."

Halifax, boosted by their victory against Wigan last week, are still without their former Bradford player, Gary Mercer.

Widnes, who are making a determined push for promotion from the Northern Ford Premiership to Super League this season, have re-signed their former captain, Paul Hulme, on a one-year contract.

Hulme, who is the younger brother of the Salford captain, David, has been a free agent since being released by Swinton at the end of last season.

The Swinton coach, Les Holliday, has announced that he will stand down from his current position at the end of this season. The former Great Britain captain and St Helens assistant coach, Mike Gregory, who was appointed to work alongside Holliday, earlier this month, will take over.