Rugby League: Ruane in as Widnes ring the changes: Transfers deadline

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The Independent Online
THE LACK of money within the game was evident yesterday, a Challenge Cup deadline day that was more notable for the transfers that failed to go through than for the ones that did. Widnes, whose coach, Phil Larder, has hinted that he will resign at the end of the season if his squad continue to be weakened by outward transfers, were the busiest club.

They completed the swap that takes their winger, Mark Sarsfield, to Leigh, in return for the utility back, David Ruane, and a cash adjustment. Widnes also registered Mark Elia, the former New Zealand international back, and Tim Russell, the Eastern Suburbs forward. They will then replace the injured Australians, Jon Grieve and Rod Howe, on Widnes's import quota, leaving Larder if not better staffed, then at least no worse.

Halifax signed Paul Round from Wakefield 10 minutes before the noon deadline, while London Crusaders expanded their Kiwi contingent still further by enlisting Logan Campbell. A move of a different sort has seen Bobby Robson, the former England football manager, revealed as a member of the consortium that is discussing a Crusaders takeover.

Elsewhere it was a case of deals that either fell through or were never under serious consideration. The speculation about Martin Offiah moving to Leeds amounted to nothing and none of the four victims of Bradford Northern's clear-out last week - David Hobbs, Brian Noble, Steve McGowan and Gerald Cordle - found new clubs in time to be registered to play in the cup.

Greg Austin, linked with three clubs, is still with Keighley but says he will not play for them again, while Widnes' move for Lee Hansen, Leigh's forward, and Salford's for Darren Abram, the Oldham centre, have not borne fruit. There was similarly no agreement on either Featherstone's offer of Francis Maloney plus cash for Bobby Goulding, Widnes' scrum-half, or Leigh's move for Ged Stazicker, Salford's transfer-listed prop. Leeds, who brought off the biggest pre-deadline coup with the signing of Harvey Howard from Widnes, got nowhere with an enquiry for Warrington's Kevin Ellis.

Oldham will be making a change in their personnel within the week when Glen Liddiard finally arrives from Australia. Liddiard will replace the injured Se'e Solomona on the import quota as Oldham have now negotiated an agreement with the Auckland Warriors that will not deprive them of compensation for Solomona.

Oldham's compensation, however, will be nothing like the pounds 75,000 for which they had hoped as international transfer fees have been ruled not to apply to New Zealanders returning home. The ruling will also affect the money St Helens can hope to get from Auckland for Tea Ropati.

Wigan's Sam Panapa has a shoulder injury which will almost certainly keep him out of the Regal Trophy final against Castleford. Martin Dermott, Wigan's hooker, is confident of recovering from a knee injury in time for the final.