Rugby League: Offer of aid not raid on Halifax

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The Independent Online
TWO OF the clubs linked with players at financially-troubled Halifax insist they are not poised to pounce.

The Wigan coach, John Monie, has denied reports that he is chasing either Gavin Clinch or Chris Chester to add to his squad at Central Park. "We should be helping Halifax through this, not raiding their players," he said.

Gateshead, in the market for a hooker following the departure of Kerrod Walters, said they would not be pursuing the England international, Paul Rowley, who is one of Halifax's prime assets. "We are not piranhas," said the club's director, Cath Hetherington, who added that Gateshead were continuing to check the availability of potential recruits for outside Super League.

In the short term, including tonight's match at Leeds, Gateshead will get by with a combination of the non- specialists, Ben Sammut and Shan Ellwood. Willie Peters is expected to be back against a Leeds team missing only the centres Richie Blackmore and Brad Godden. This is the first of Leeds' Friday night fixtures to be played at the new time of eight o'clock, which the club says will suit its supporters better.

Halifax, striding to maintain a mood of business as usual, are at Warrington in tonight's other match, with Daryll Cardiss set to return in place of Nick Pinkney, but Chester is still out.

Sheffield Eagles' fear that Mark Aston will not play again this season after suffering a serious groin injury at Wigan on Wednesday night. Chris Thorman will deputise as scrum-half for tomorrow's match against Bradford, which is being played at Chesterfield.

The Sheffield coach, John Kear, is critical of a fixture structure that gives his side games against Wigan and a fresh Bradford in such quick succession. "If we have to play mid-week games, then everyone should play on the same night," he said.

Hull have denied getting rid of two of their senior players as a cost- cutting measure. Matt Calland and the Welsh international hooker, Martin Hall, have both had their contracts cancelled, but Hull, who sacked their coach, Peter Walsh, last week, say that the cuts have been made because of long-term injury problems.