Rugby League: Naylor bolsters Bradford rebuilding

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The Independent Online
BRADFORD HAVE continued their rebuilding for next season by enlisting the Salford centre, Scott Naylor, as a free agent.

Naylor, one of an increasing number of players ending this season with one club while already committed to another for next, is seen as a successor to Graeme Bradley, who is retiring at the end of this campaign.

He will join other new recruits, including his former Salford team-mate, Nathan McAvoy, the ex-Huddersfield prop, Neil Harmon, and the highest- profile signing of them all, Wigan's Henry Paul, as the Bulls strive to show that they are not taking their relative decline this season lying down.

Another newcomer, albeit on a temporary loan, makes his full debut tomorrow night in a match against Warrington that Bradford must win if they are to tighten their grip on the fifth and final play-off place. Harvey Howard makes his first start, against his hometown club, in place of Brian McDermott, who has a knee injury.

Despite their poor league position Matthew Elliott, the Bradford coach, believes Warrington could pose a problem,

"They are playing without any pressure on them because their season is just about over," he said. "They are playing a very enterprising, open style of rugby and unless we are prepared to play a similar style of rugby we are going to get burned again."

Elsewhere, clubs who know they will be in the play-offs carry on consolidating. Leaders Wigan have Denis Betts back, for the first time since his knee injury a month ago, as a substitute against Salford.

Alongside him on the bench will be the 20-year-old Wes Davies, the Alliance team full-back and grandson of the Wigan legend, Billy Boston. He gets his first taste of first-team rugby, with another young reserve, Neil Baynes, also among the substitutes.

Another outstanding young player, Kevin Sinfield, is in line to play for second-placed Leeds at Huddersfield, in place of the rested Marc Glanville.

St Helens, currently fourth and at home to Castleford tomorrow, have withdrawn their new contract offers to Karle Hammond and Ian Pickavance. "Their futures lie elsewhere," Saints' football manager, Eric Hughes said. Huddersfield have shown interest in both players, while London, Hull and Gateshead have all been linked with Hammond.

Castleford will be without Barrie-Jon Mather, who has joined Sale rugby union club.

The play-offs in the First Division continue, with Featherstone at Dewsbury in the sudden-death match. The winners of the match between Wakefield Trinity and Hull KR go straight into the Grand Final in two weeks' time.