Rugby League: Things look up for Rovers

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The Independent Online
HULL KINGSTON ROVERS still have something to prove, despite having the threat of relegation lifted this week by the decision to expand the First Division for next season.

Rovers, bottom of the table, go to second-placed St Helens tonight for a match which would have been part of an increasingly desperate battle to beat the drop. It could now be regarded as an academic exercise, but their coach, George Fairbairn, will have none of that.

'I've spoken to all the players and our aim now is to play our way off the bottom and show that we were not going to go down anyway,' he said.

They must do that for the forseeable future without their New Zealand international, Dean Clark, who collapsed with a neck injury after Wednesday's brave effort against Wigan. Clark is still in hospital, but scans and X-rays have found no damage. The problem is now thought to be caused by fluid on the back of his neck.

The other Humberside coach, Royce Simmons, has restored the Great Britain hooker, Lee Jackson, to the Hull first team for Sunday's match against Leigh. The decision, he emphasised, has not been prompted by the section of Hull supporters who chanted for both his resignation and Jackson's return at Salford last weekend.

One disgruntled Hull fan punched or pushed Simmons after the match, but he said: 'Anyone who knows me will realise that it will just make me more determined. Jackson is not back in because of those few idiots at Salford, but because he got back to his best form in the reserve team last weekend.'

Another international dropped last month, Paul Eastwood, returns on the wing and Simmons's fellow-Australian, Scott Gale, a particular target for criticism from the terraces, reverts to his usual position of stand-off.

The former Great Britain half- back, David Hulme, will play loose forward for Widnes in their Silk Cut Challenge Cup semi-final against Leeds at Wigan tomorrow.