RUGBY LEAGUE: Summer season worries Aussies

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The Independent Online
The debate over summer rugby has taken a new twist with a warning from Australia that a switch of season would jeopardise Kangaroo tours.

A ground-swell of support is growing for a British season running from March to October and the Rugby League is due to discuss the matter next week.

But Ken Arthurson, chairman of the Australian Rugby League and head of the game's international board, says that Britain playing its domestic season at the same time as Australia would have "serious consequences''.

"If we were both playing at the same time, then we wouldn't have anyone to play when it was time to tour. That's what concerns and worries me," he said.

"Tours between the two countries have been the lifeblood of English rugby league and they should give such a decision a hell of a lot of thought.''

Arthurson plans to bring up the problem at the international board meeting in London next month, but one possible way around it could lie in Sheffield Eagles manager Gary Hetherington's suggestion for a "world series" involving Britain, Australia and the other Test-playing nations at the end of every domestic season.

Another worry for Arthurson is the news that Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd is to take the ARL and six of its member clubs to court as part of its continuing attempt to set up a breakaway Super League.

Leeds have their three injured players, Garry Schofield, Graham Holroyd and Harvey Howard, fit for tomorrow's Silk Cut Challenge Cup semi-final against Featherstone.

Players of the crisis club Doncaster may refuse to turn out in Sunday's match against Bradford Northern after a disagreement with the club's administrators over match payments. Players at the south Yorkshire club claim they have not been paid for their last match against Featherstone and that tpayment for the game against Hull on 15 January was only half the agreed amount.

A Rugby League spokesman said: "The players have stood by the club through some very difficult times and it is a shame that they should be in this position."

Paul Rowley, the hero of Halifax' victory over Wigan on Wednesday night, could be switched from hooker to scrum-half for the quick re-match between the two teams on Sunday. Rowley could be moved because of injuries to Wayne Parker and Craig Dean, with his successor as the Great Britain Academy hooker, John Lawless, replacing him in the pack.

Richard Webster, Salford's former Welsh rugby union forward, will not play again this season after having an emergency appendix operation.

FEATHERSTONE ROVERS (v Leeds, Challenge Cup semi-final, Elland Road, tomorrow): Gibson; Butt, Rodger, Calland, Hughes; Tuuta, Aston; Molloy, Southernwood, Casey, Divet, G H Price, Roebuck. Substitutes: Nixon, Nadiole.

LEEDS: Tait; Fallon, Iro, Innes, Cummins; Schofield, Holroyd; Howard, Lowes, Faimalo, Mercer, Eyres, Hanley. Substitutes: Mann, Harmon.

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