Rugby League: McDermott ban stays

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The Independent Online
The Bradford Bulls chairman, Chris Caisley, has criticised the league's disciplinary system after his prop, Brian McDermott, failed in his appeal yesterday against the remaining three matches of his suspension for punching.

"We are aggrieved at the inconsistency of the system and aggrieved that the committee found, despite the evidence to the contrary, that he had not been provoked," Caisley said.

"Our player has been banned for four matches for fighting, while Leeds' Barrie McDermott, who has a far worse disciplinary record, only got three for a high tackle, which is potentially far more dangerous."

Caisley favours a system of fixed penalties, which was discussed but found little support at the meeting of the Rugby League Council this week.

The first consequence of the appeal's failure is that the Bulls' coach will have to manage without one of his key forwards at Wigan tonight. He will use a combination of Paul Anderson and Jeff Wittenberg to compensate against a Wigan team which he predicts "will be at its best for such a big match."

Wigan have opted for the feminine touch on the administration side by promoting club secretary Mary Sharkey to football manager. Sharkey, 33, who has spent 16 years at the club, becomes Super League's second woman football manager, following the appointment of Rebecca Cove at Paris St- Germain.

St Helens, just behind Bulls at the top of Super League, go to Leeds, for whom Iestyn Harris makes his first start. Harris, who was an instant success when he made his debut as a substitute against Wigan last week, will be in his favourite stand-off position against the side who were the favourites to sign him. Lee St Hilaire replaces the injured Leroy Rivett on the wing.

If Bradford and Saints lose, Salford could be the leaders of Super League. They face Sheffield without Andy Platt, who has a rib injury, but winger Paul Evans has escaped a ban for an alleged high tackle.

Halifax have increased their French contingent to five with the arrival of the Tunisian-born Test forward, Ezzedine Attia, and the half-back, Vincent Banet, plus two teenagers, Laurent Frayssinous and Jerome Guisset.