Rugby League: Salford show faith to end Hayes' hiatus

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JOEY HAYES has ended two years of injury-induced misery by finally signing for Salford. The Great Britain tour winger in 1996 suffered a series of setbacks at St Helens after returning from New Zealand, but he has now passed a medical to allow him to complete his move to The Willows.

"It's been a frustrating couple of years and this transfer seems to have been going on forever, but [Salford coach] Andy Gregory has shown a lot of faith in me," he said yesterday.

Hayes, now 23, suffered a series of knee injuries that at one stage threatened his career. He has been given a clean bill of health on that front and has now been given the all-clear as well on the wrist that he fractured at the end of last season.

It will, however, be two weeks before he can play and will thus miss this weekend's friendlies against Barrow and Lancashire Lynx. Hayes becomes Gregory's 11th signing of the winter, and probably his last.

Another Salford newcomer, the Australian forward Hudson Smith, will be able to play against Barrow tomorrow - after seeming likely to miss out because of the size of his feet.

Smith, who wears size 14 boots, lost them in transit from Sydney, but an appeal has produced a volunteer willing to lend him a pair while the former Balmain second-rower has had a pair of his own made.

Another player from Sydney, the former Cronulla forward, Danny Lee, has confirmed that he will arrive to join the Super League newcomers, Gateshead Thunder, next month now that his wife has given birth.

All Gateshead's players, except Lee and the former Newcastle Knights centre, Brett Grogan, whose partner is awaiting immigration clearance, will be used in the Thunder's first friendly, at Castleford on 29 January.

All Super League and First Division players are to be consulted over some of the game's most significant issues. The Rugby League, in conjunction with the Professional Players' Association, is to ask for their opinion on matters such as the organisation of international football and the effectiveness or otherwise of the League's drugs policy.

Players are also to be asked for their views on the system of unlimited interchange used in Australia. The game in Britain allows unrestricted use of substitutes, but some coaches are strongly in favour of it.

Alex Murphy, who received an OBE in the New Year's honours list, is to be given a special presentation before St Helens' match against Swinton on Sunday. The former Great Britain scrum-half first played for Saints and later coached his home-town club.

n The former Oldham coach, Brian Gartland, who discovered the current Great Britain coach, Andy Goodway, as a 17-year-old, has died, aged 62.