RUGBY LEAGUE: No room under cap for Paul

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The Independent Online
WIGAN ARE to part company with Henry Paul at the end of this season after failing to come to terms with him over the option of a two-year contract extension.

The New Zealand international, who has spent four seasons at Central Park, has already had inconclusive talks with Bradford, while Wigan have signed up the North Sydney stand-off, Greg Florimo.

Wigan's problem with Paul was that the pay rise he was guaranteed if he stayed with the club would have exceeded their salary cap and their coach, John Monie, told him when they met last week that he was not prepared to sack two other players to accommodate him.

Wigan have, however, offered a new one-year contract to their Australian hooker Robbie McCormack, although Monie stressed yesterday that he expected his young understudy, John Clarke, to play plenty of first-team rugby next season.

McCormack, who arrived from the Hunter Mariners at the start of this season, returns to the Wigan side against Hull tomorrow in place of Clark after standing down last week with concussion.

Bradford and Halifax are going into the most crucial phase of the season without the players who have arguably been their best all year.

The Bulls will be without Tevita Vaikona for the rest of the campaign, because he broke his hand in the last minute of Monday's victory over Castleford.

"It's symptomatic of the luck we've had this season," said their coach, Matthew Elliott. "Tevita has been in fine form lately and losing him for the season is a massive blow. We will just have to keep on battling and do our best without him."

Vaikona has had an operation to insert a plate in his hand. His likely replacement for tomorrow night's match at the London Broncos is Matt Calland.

A few hours earlier, Halifax could begin to find out just how important Martin Moana has been to their excellent form so far this season.

Discounting Wigan's Andy Farrell, Moana has been the best loose forward in the competition, but he could miss the rest of the season with a hairline fracture of his forearm.

Halifax are also to lose another of the major contributors to their success this season, with the news that Fereti Tuilagi is to join St Helens for next year.

Halifax were soundly beaten at St Helens last week and a slump now could cost them third place and the advantages it carries for the play-offs. The Eagles, on the other hand, could still grab fifth place.

The First Division play-offs begin tomorrow with Hull KR playing Dewsbury and, in the elimination semi-final, Featherstone taking on Swinton, while the Lancashire Lynx will clinch the Second Division title if they avoid defeat by Batley.