Rugby League: Platt agrees deal for Monie not money: Challenge of Winfield Cup draws Wigan prop Down Under

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ANDY PLATT is to leave Wigan at the end of this season to finish his career playing in the Winfield Cup with the Auckland Warriors.

Wigan's attempts to persuade the 29-year-old Great Britain prop to stay with the club have failed, with Platt telling them that it is the challenge, not the money, that is taking him to the southern hemisphere.

Platt has agreed a two-year contract with the Warriors that will leave him worse off financially than if he stayed with Wigan. He almost joined Parramatta 18 months ago and now wants to prove himself in the Winfield Cup, recognised as the toughest competition in the world, before he retires, he has told the Wigan chairman, Jack Robinson.

'We tried very hard to keep Andy, but under those circumstances there is not very much you can do,' said Robinson, who is nevertheless furious about the role of the former Wigan and now Auckland coach, John Monie, in 'poaching' Wigan players.

Platt joins Dean Bell in committing himself to the new Auckland club, and the Warriors have also approached Frano Botica and Denis Betts, both of whom are contracted to Wigan beyond the Warriors' launch date.

Robinson's counter-attack has taken the form of urging the Rugby League to rule that players signing for Winfield Cup clubs will not be eligible to play for Great Britain.

That might be seen as a stick with which to persuade players to stay at home, but it has implications that will need to be studied in detail.

In the meantime, Platt's departure after six years of what Robinson described as 'wonderful service' could stimulate a Wigan interest in Harvey Howard, on the transfer list at pounds 130,000 at Widnes.

Francis Maloney, Featherstone Rovers' Great Britain Under-21 stand-off was yesterday put on the transfer list at pounds 125,000 after asking for a move.