Rugby League: Leeds furious over Newton approach

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The Independent Online
LEEDS HAVE rejected a formal offer from Wigan for Terry Newton, the Great Britain hooker whose future has caused increasing friction between Super League's two leading clubs. Wigan yesterday made a pounds 30,000 offer for the 20-year-old Wigan-born player, who appeared in the third Test against New Zealand in November.

Leeds' chief executive, Gary Hetherington, said: "The Wigan chairman, Peter Norbury, and myself have talked about the situation and the matter is now closed. I have spoken to Terry and he is fully committed to the Rhinos. He is looking forward to the start of the season and to staking his claim for a place in the first-team squad."

Newton became a regular member of Leeds' pack last season, but is under pressure for a starting role this year following the signing of the former Great Britain hooker, Lee Jackson, from the Newcastle Knights in Australia. Wigan, on the other hand, are in some difficulty in this vital position.

They released last season's first choice, Robbie McCormack, during the winter and the player earmarked as his replacement, Jon Clarke, is in court at the end of this month after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm.

Leeds have accused Wigan of trying to unsettle Newton, with Hetherington calling the club "an embarrassment to Super League" and claiming that they were trying to undermine Leeds' pre-season preparations. "They are the league leaders when it comes to arrogance," he said.

Norbury responded yesterday by denying he was trying to unsettle Newton and he claimed only to have been responding to an agent's inquiry about whether Wigan would be interested in the player.

"I have always found that those who are successful must expect to be knocked," he said. "I can understand Gary's frustration as I am sure he must be under considerable pressure at Leeds, a big city club that has no major trophy win for the last 15 years."

If that exchange really is the end of it, Wigan's plight could be eased today by confirmation that the North Sydney utility player, Mark Reber, will be joining them. Wigan have, meanwhile, given a non-committal response to Cardiff's suggestion of a cross-code challenge between the two clubs.

Peter Deakin, the marketing guru responsible for much of the commercial success of the Bradford Bulls, is expected to join Warrington as chief executive after resigning from his role at Saracens.

Doncaster will today confirm Garry Schofield in a multi-faceted role as club captain, assistant coach and development officer. The club, threatened with closure this winter, will also unveil other signings.

St Helens have welcomed their new Australian prop, Phil Adamson, a skilful ball-playing forward from Penrith, and will give him his debut in the friendly at home to Swinton on Sunday.

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