RUGBY LEAGUE: Leeds ward off WRU honeypot for Harris

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The Independent Online
LEEDS RHINOS yesterday acted to stave off a Welsh Rugby Union raid for their captain, Iestyn Harris, by tying him to a new contract.

Harris, one of league's finest players, has agreed to extend his current deal, which had two years to run, and that might just be enough to put the player back out of reach of Graham Henry's red dragons.

The WRU was thought to be preparing a deal worth pounds 1m to lure the Wales and Great Britain international into the 15-a-side code. It is believed Harris, courted by the WRU for the past three years, was being lined up to join a Welsh club, probably Cardiff, in preparation for the next World Cup in 2003.

The news will be welcomed by Wales' rugby league coach, Clive Griffiths, ahead of the 2000 World Cup, which will be held in the United Kingdom next autumn.

The 23-year-old full-back or stand-off, who joined Leeds in an estimated pounds 350,000 deal from Warrington in April 1997, was the 1998 Man of Steel after a phenomenal season in which he scored 283 points.

Wakefield, who attempted to lure the All Black wing Jonah Lomu last month, yesterday signed Paul Sampson. The 22-year-old Wakefield-born full-back moves to Belle Vue from Wasps after three years with the London rugby union club.