Rugby League: Leeds lose captain to ban

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The Independent Online
Two players have been punished for high tackles with bans that will rule them out for the rest of the Super League season.

The Leeds captain, Gary Mercer, has been suspended for five matches for a late, high tackle on Bradford's Graeme Bradley last Sunday. The disciplinary committee said that the tackle had carried "great potential for serious injury".

Mercer, who was called up on video evidence after being placed on report during the match, will miss the last four matches of the season - beginning with the match against the London Broncos on Sunday that could decide second place in the table - and the first round of the Premiership play- offs.

The suspension will not help his prospects for a new contract at Leeds; the former New Zealand Test player has already been linked with a possible move to Halifax.

The Oldham hooker, John Clarke, has also been banned for five games after being sent off for a high tackle which left London's David Krause with a broken nose last Tuesday. Clarke was also found guilty of fighting, although the two clubs have avoided punishment for the wider battle that ensued.

The British Amateur Rugby League Association has hailed plans for a competition bringing together top amateur clubs and those from the First and Second Divisions of the professional game as a potential breakthrough.

"The competition, if approved by the two bodies, will open up pathways and opportunities for ambitious amateur clubs throughout the country who wish to opt for professional status," Barla's Ian Cooper said.