Rugby League: Saints wait on Hunte

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The Independent Online
St Helens and Bradford have both delayed naming their teams for the Challenge Cup final - but the problems they face in making their decisions are different.

Saints' coach, Shaun McRae, is still waiting for Alan Hunte, the in-form centre whose hamstring injury could keep him out of the Wembley line-up, to prove his fitness in time to play.

With Swansea ruling out any prospect of Scott Gibbs returning to make a guest appearance in the final, McRae will have to choose between Andy Haigh and Vila Matautia to fill Hunte's place if he fails to recover in time.

Saints' other recent casualty, Derek McVey, is back in training after ankle ligament trouble, but McVey must decide whether he can risk a forward who has not played since Good Friday.

For Bradford Bulls' Matthew Elliott, the question is who to leave out. Apart from the long-term invalids, Jason Donougher and Warren Jowitt, he has a full squad to choose from, with the composition of his middle backs the main riddle he has to solve.

"I've already had sleepless nights about it," Elliott said.

The Cup's sponsors, Silk Cut, are again putting up a pounds 10,000 prize for any player who scores a hat-trick of tries in the final on Saturday.

Bradford's Robbie Paul collected such a cheque when he became the first player to do so in a Wembley final, captaining the Bulls to their 40-32 defeat by Saints last year. He still could to become Wembley's youngest- ever winning captain if he lifts the Cup this weekend.

Leeds and Sheffield Eagles have both made inquiries for David Bradbury, the Great Britain tour loose forward who has been transfer-listed at pounds 200,000 by Oldham.