Rugby League: Sailor turns down Wigan

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The Independent Online
WENDELL SAILOR has rejected Wigan after promising to join them and has opted instead to stay with Brisbane Broncos.

The Australian Test winger was due to join Wigan next season on a two- year contract worth pounds 500,000, provided he could gain a release from an option on his services claimed by Brisbane. Sailor has now dropped the court case against the club through which he was challenging that claim and agreed a two-year extension of his contract with them.

"I allowed myself to be convinced that money was the benchmark of success," said Sailor, who flew to England and was unveiled by Wigan at a press conference in January. "I now understand that integrity is far more important."

Amid the arguments over his future, Sailor signed a Wigan contract. That was, however, conditional on him gaining his contractual freedom from Brisbane and Wigan will not be taking any legal action to try to enforce it.

Sailor's manager, Barry Collins, said that there were a number of factors behind the player's change of heart. One is that his partner is expecting their baby in August and wants to be close to her parents.

Another is the court costs that he could have faced if he had lost his case against the Broncos, but what has perhaps weighed most heavily is the value he places on playing for Queensland and Australia.

The response at Central Park would best be described as disappointment but not shock. "We are disappointed that a player of Wendell's calibre will not be joining us," said the Wigan chief executive, Phil Clarke. "However, we are already looking at a number of alternatives."

Wigan want a big name imported player for next season, but it is considered imperative they have one to spearhead the move to their new stadium in 2000. The club's coach, John Monie, is keen on the North Sydney and Australia utility player, Greg Florimo, while the Australian captain, Laurie Daley, and Sailor's Brisbane team-mate, Gordon Tallis, have been sounded out. The Sydney City half-back and Papua New Guinea captain, Adriam Lam, is another who has been mentioned.

l St Helens' world record signing, Paul Sculthorpe, will undergo a hospital check today to diagnose the extent of the sternum injury he sustained in Sunday's 16-10 Super League defeat at Halifax. The 20-year-old Great Britain international was replaced during the first-half of the New Shay loss. The Saints coach, Shaun McRae feared he had broken his sternum but Sculthorpe is hopeful the injury is not too serious.