Rugby League: Steadman to pay for error

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The Independent Online
THE Castleford and Great Britain full-back, Graham Steadman, has been fined pounds 1,000 after failing a drugs test on this summer's tour of New Zealand.

Steadman returned a positive sample after the second Test against the Kiwis in Auckland, but the Rugby League's board of directors yesterday accepted his explanation that he had taken medication for a chest and throat infection. The board called it 'naive' for Steadman to have taken the Australian-made product without clearance from the tour doctor.

'The board felt that the player had been irresponsible in not checking the contents,' the League said, although he had declared its use to medical officers at the drugs test after the game.

Also in trouble at yesterday's meeting were Steadman's Great Britain colleagues, Martin Offiah and Kelvin Skerrett, who failed to collect their losers' medals after the Charity Shield defeat by St Helens 10 days ago.

Both players will now have the medals withheld. Offiah has been fined pounds 250 while Skerrett has been severely reprimanded.

Another Great Britain tourist, Deryck Fox, is increasingly confident that he will not only get the move from Featherstone that he wants this weekend but that it will also be to the club of his choice, Bradford Northern.

'Everything is pointing towards Bradford,' Fox said. 'They are coming back with a bigger offer this weekend which I hope Featherstone will accept.'

The story of Fox's attempts to get away from a club he has served for nine years is already a complex one and may have a few twists left in it yet.

Featherstone had accepted an offer of pounds 120,000 plus a player from Halifax, but Fox turned down the move because he was confident that Leeds would buy him. They tried to, but when Rovers turned down an offer that failed to match Halifax's, they bought Andy Gregory instead.

Now Fox could fall into the same limbo between Bradford and Hull. Although he would prefer Bradford, he cannot afford to turn his back on Hull, who are also trying to raise money to finance a deal.

'I think Featherstone have been holding out for too much,' Fox said. 'I hope they take Bradford's offer, but if Hull come up with a deal I will have to think again.'

His third option would be to take up an offer from the Sydney club, Cronulla, even if it means sitting it out until next June, when his Featherstone contract expires.

The Salford coach, Kevin Tamati, who has traded the utility- back, Kevin Fox, to Carlisle in return for Robert Ackerman, hopes to complete another swap deal in time for Sunday's game at Castleford. Salford have offered Steve Kerry, the half-back, plus a cash adjustment for Rochdale's prolific centre, Darren Abram.

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