Rugby League: Oceania Cup is costly for clubs

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The Independent Online
British clubs have been counting the potential cost of next month's Oceania Cup, which could deprive them of key players. Including travelling time, players from the Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Western Samoa and Papua New Guinea could miss four rounds of club matches.

Salford, who are bidding to win the First Division Championship and with it promotion to the Super League, have already told the Cook Islands they cannot have Ali Davys and they have also informed Western Samoa that they will not release Sam Panapa.

"We would like to help, but there is a lot at stake for us," the Salford chairman, John Wilkinson, said.

St Helens, the Super League leaders who face losing the Sa- moans Apollo Perelini and Vila Matautia from matches against Leeds, Bradford, Halifax and Oldham, are seeking clarification from the League.

"This is the inaugural season of Super League and we question the wisdom of taking leading players out of the competi- tion," said the Saints chief ex-ecutive, David Howes.

As an officially recognised international competition, the Oceania Cup can call on the players it requires. Those who do not go would not, in theory, be able to play for their clubs here during the course of the tournament.

The League's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay, has attacked standards in France after Wed- nesday's record 73-6 defeat by England in Gateshead.

"They are not making any progress," Lindsay said. "What they need is administration that will drive the game there forward. All we are hearing is fine words, but we are not seeing any action."

Apart from the poor displays of the French national side, the Paris St- Germain team is slipping closer to the foot of Super League, although Brit- ain's academy executive, John Kear, is to be loaned to the club to help them reorganise their internal structure.