RUGBY LEAGUE; Signing of Australian pair is coup for Wigan

Click to follow
The Independent Online
WIGAN HAVE begun their rebuilding for next season with the signing of the Australians Brett Dallas and Willie Peters. The club's chairman, Maurice Lindsay, has returned from a recruiting trip Down Under with the signatures of what he calls "two players of style and class".

Dallas, the North Sydney and former Canterbury winger, has played six Tests for Australia and was signed despite competition from Melbourne and Brisbane.

"I am tremendously excited that we have got him. He is a red-headed John Ferguson," said Lindsay, recalling one of his most successful signings of the mid-1980s.

Wigan's other signing is an equally startling coup. Peters was Gateshead's outstanding player in their ultimately ill-fated inaugural season and the club, now relocated to Hull, has accepted a substantial transfer fee for him.

"He had another year on his contract with Gateshead and Brisbane were also chasing him, but the attraction of playing for Wigan appealed to him," said Lindsay.

Shane Richardson, the chief executive at Gateshead and now at Hull, said that the club had been sad to see Peters go. "Willie and I are best friends and he had a great season for Gateshead," he said. "But if there is a position we have a surplus in, it would be half-back."

Peters and possibly Dallas will make their debuts for Wigan in the Boxing Day fixture against St Helens, with Peters' arrival making it increasingly certain that Gavin Clinch will leave to join the new Huddersfield-Sheffield club.

He will follow Brett Goldspink and Greg Florimo, now with Halifax, as overseas players leaving Wigan, with the futures of Danny Moore and Mark Reber also uncertain. Lindsay has an antipodean forward in the pipeline, ready to take the place of one or other of them when and if they depart.

The club is also homing in on a coach from Australasia to take the place of Andy Goodway, who was sacked earlier this month. The Australian and New Zealand Test coaches, Chris Anderson and Frank Endacott, and the St George-Illawarra assistant, Andrew Farrar, are the names in the running, but the all-time great Australian scrum-half, Peter Sterling, could yet emerge as a surprise candidate.