Rugby League: Murray requires Senior's service

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The Independent Online
KEITH SENIOR is an integral part of Leeds' play-off campaign, despite only arriving at the club with hours to spare. Leeds paid Sheffield around pounds 200,000 for Senior last Friday, just in time for him to make his debut in their final league match against London, writes Dave Hadfield.

"It had been a pretty traumatic week for him, so he needed that game," said his new coach, Graham Murray. "He has got to get used to our system, but I think he's a good enough player to slot into anything that's thrown at him."

Senior will start alongside the returning Brad Godden in tonight's qualifying play-off at St Helens, but Murray is unsure over the fitness of Terry Newton and Darren Fleary. In the longer term, Murray has doubts about his own future. Due to leave at the end of this season to coach North Sydney, he might now have no club to go to. Norths are widely expected to merge with Manly, whose coach, Steve Sharp, is likely to get the job. "The man on the spot, rather than the man 12,000 miles away," Murray said.

He could now be back in the market for another job in England: "You never say never."

Like Leeds, Saints have a new face in their squad for the play-offs. The New Zealand winger Sean Hoppe, employed as a second-rower against Bradford last Friday, is not sure what role he will play tonight.

The St Helens captain, Chris Joynt, concedes that the injured Sean Long will be missed but believes that his side has already gained one important advantage. "We're going into the play-offs knowing that we've got a home tie, which was one of our goals," he said. Saints, however, are also going into the play-offs in the habit of conceding too many points.

"Saints can defend and score tries, but it's the defence that's sometimes the problem. That comes down to the players individually. Ellery Hanley's a great coach, but he expects us to learn."