Rugby League: Raper signs new deal at Castleford

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The Independent Online
STUART RAPER, the Castleford coach, has ended speculation about his future by signing a new contract which will keep him at the club until the end of next season.

The Australian had been linked with jobs both here and at home, but said yesterday: "My future is with the Tigers. Castleford have made great progress over the last 12 months and it is up to all of us to continue that progress and become one of the top clubs in Super League.

"Although several other opportunities were enticing, I have made the decision to stay with the Tigers and am excited about the future of the club."

Castleford's chief executive, Richard Wright, welcomed Raper's decision and criticised other clubs for trying to lure him away. "I am angered that other British Super League clubs have attempted to undermine our plans by approaching Stuart at the start of the season," he said.

All first-team players in Australia are to be drug-tested after the international full-back, Robbie O'Davis, escaped punishment on a technicality this week. O'Davis tested positive for a performance-enhancing steroid, but avoided action when his club, Newcastle, claimed that the National Rugby League was acting outside its jurisdiction, because players' registrations precede its formation this year.

O'Davis, who denies using a banned substance and claims that a herbal remedy is to blame, is coached at the Knights by one of Raper's predecessors at Castleford, Malcolm Reilly. He is due to play for Queensland in the deciding State of Origin game tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the NRL is to start testing all players and to close the loophole through which O'Davis escaped by making them sign new registration forms. Suspicions of steroid use have been rife in Australia since the early 1980s. A handful of players have also tested positive in Britain, two of whom - Jamie Bloem and David Stephenson - are now playing again after serving bans. Current policy here is to test two players from each side in one selected match per weekend.

Cardiff have made a presentation to MPs in the All Party Rugby League Group on their case for inclusion in Super League next season.

Second Division Oldham have transfer-listed their 18-year-old half-back, Darren Robinson, at his own request as he is seeking first-team rugby on a more regular basis.

The Great Britain amateur rugby league team arrived in Australia yesterday for a historic all-Aboriginal tour.

The 26-strong Barla squad open their six-match programme against the North Queensland Aboriginal Development XIII in Mareeba on Saturday and round off their tour with a Test match against the Australian Aboriginals in Sydney on 12 July as part of National Aboriginal Week.

The tourists are led by the Barla player of the year, Colin Carter from West Hull.

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