Rugby League: Saints warn union clubs on Goulding

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The Independent Online
St Helens have warned that any rugby union club wanting Bobbie Goulding will have to pay the market price for the privilege.

Goulding's name has been circulated to union clubs by an agent, but Saints' chief executive, David Howes, said: "He still has two years left on his contract here. We went through all this a year ago and our attitude is still the same."

Howes said that the club was against loan arrangements to union sides and would want a big fee for any permanent move. "If there is someone out there prepared to talk sensible transfer fees, bring them in. We will be talking to Bobbie to see what the situation is."

Saints have alternatives to Goulding for next season and take the view that every player has his price. But the price for Goulding, who cost them pounds 160,000 from Widnes in 1994, would be likely to deter most clubs at a time when financial reality is starting to bite.

Meanwhile, Saints are still to agree a fee with Castleford for Chris Smith. The Great Britain Under-21 winger has signed while Joey Hayes and the transfer-listed Ian Pickavance could move in the opposite direction.

Iestyn Harris will play his first match in Leeds' New Year's Day fixture against Castleford since the back injury that kept him out of the Tests against Australia in November. It will also be Harris' first match at full-back for the club, which released last season's regular, Damian Gibson, this winter.

Leeds also have Martin Masella, Marvin Golden and Andy Hay back and give a fitness test to Richie Blackmore, who has had surgery on an ankle injury.

The Wigan utility back, Henry Paul, has dismissed fears that he will miss the start of the Super League season after damaging the arm that he broke at the end of last season.

The new Oldham club has signed the former Oldham Bears winger, Afi Leuila, but have lost out to Swinton in the bidding for the half-back, Steve Gartland, who played for Rochdale last season.