Rugby League: Surprise recall for sacked players

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The Independent Online
In a startling about-face, Warrington have recalled the three players they sacked at the start of the season.

Martin Dermott, Willie Swann and Mateaki Mafi were told to report back to the club, and they trained with the rest of the squad for the first time yesterday.

"I thought their attitude was excellent, after everything that's happened," the Warrington coach, Darryl Van de Velde, said. "I didn't make the decision to sack them and, as far as I'm concerned, they start with a clean slate."

The trio - all relatively recent signings at the time - were kicked out during the regime of Van de Velde's predecessors, John Dorahy and Alex Murphy, after a 58-20 thrashing at Bradford in the first Super League match of the season. "I'm not particularly interested in what went on," he said. "I just want to see what they can do."

Dermott, the former Wigan and Great Britain hooker, Mafi, the Tongan sprint champion who has been interesting Widnes and Workington, and Swann, the ex-Auckland Warriors' scrum-half, have all kept in training during their exile from the club. Although Dermott is carrying an injury, Swann could be drafted in as an emergency hooker for the match at Leeds tomorrow night.

Warrington will be without their current first choice props, Warren Stevens and Gary Chambers, for that trip to Headingley. Both have arm injuries to show for the defeat by Sheffield Eagles on Sunday, after which Van de Velde said candidly that he would not have taken the job if he had known how bad things were at the club.

"With hindsight, I probably wouldn't have taken it," he admitted. "But I'm not looking back now. I'm looking forward and trying to make some improvements."

He faces a potential extra handicap at Leeds if Salesi Finau is suspended as a result of being cited for a suspected high tackle in last Friday's loss at the London Broncos.

Ian Pickavance will further deplete St Helens' resources if he is banned for his sending-off against Salford, whose forward, Paul Forber, cited over the same incident, has also been told to appear today.