Rugby League: Monie recruits young Wigan pair for Broncos

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The Independent Online
JOHN MONIE has begun to put his stamp on the London Broncos by signing two of his proteges from Wigan. The Great Britain Under-21 hooker, Jon Clarke, and the versatile Andy Johnson have both moved to the capital on two-year deals.

"John has been the major influence behind the signings," said London's chief executive, Tony Rea. "Both of them have really good attitudes and great utility value. They know the way John works and will slot straight into the way we will be doing things."

Clarke, aged 20, was earmarked as Wigan's first-team hooker for last season, but had his progress interrupted by a term in a young offenders' institution after a prosecution for assault. Johnson, now aged 25, has played first-team rugby at wing, centre and loose forward, but has been troubled by injury over the past two years and finished last season on loan to Huddersfield. Their arrival will continue the steady progression towards fielding a predominantly British side at the Broncos, a process that was helped by the success there of Karle Hammond last season.

London have already signed the Italian-Australian three-quarter, Frank Napoli, and Monie, in Australia for his daughter's wedding, is on the trail of at least another two players.

The announcement of the double signing from Wigan yesterday marked the Broncos' first act back at their old home at The Valley. The club has decided to move back in with Charlton Athletic, their landlords in 1996, after three years with Harlequins at The Stoop. The Broncos have agreed to play there for the next six seasons. "We are taking the long-term view," said Rea. "We never lost touch with Charlton and are really excited about moving back to an area and a community that is buzzing with activity from the Millennium Dome."

Rea, however, promised that the club's development work in west London - where 27 schools play the game - will continue, including games between east and west London.

Wigan and Leeds go in front of a Rugby League tribunal today to decide a fee for the Great Britain hooker, Terry Newton. Wigan have offered pounds 40,000 for the player, who won his first Test cap against New Zealand last year, but Leeds believe he is worth more than pounds 100,000.

The former Leeds and Widnes prop, Harvey Howard, has earned himself a one-year contract with the Brisbane Broncos. The one Englishman in Australia's top competition, who appeared for Bradford and was included in the Great Britain squad last year, was on the books of Western Suburbs in Sydney but was edged out by their merger with Balmain.

The fixture list for the Northern Ford Premiership, which kicks off on Boxing Day, has been placed on hold until a decision is made about the inclusion of the new Sheffield club at the meeting of the Rugby League Council on 7 December.