Rugby League: Third time lucky as Wakefield earn promotion

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The Independent Online
WAKEFIELD TRINITY have been given the green light to compete in Super League next season.

The First Division champions have, at the third attempt, satisfied the independent franchise panel that they can meet the criteria for the elite and they have been promoted.

"It is a credit to the game that the process that has been instigated has proved to be successful," Ted Richardson, their chairman, said. "The thorough and professional approach adopted has been longer than everyone had hoped, but we can confidently go forward now with our plans."

Those plans include installing extra seats at Belle Vue for next season, playing televised games at Barnsley's Oakwell ground and moving to a new stadium for 2000.

Of even more immediate concern will be the calibre of the team that Wakefield can put on to the field. Their chief executive, Steve Ferres, admitted that they would need 14 or 15 new players.

"We have got a good idea who we want to retain from the team that won the First Division Grand Final and who we want to bring in," Andy Kelly, the Trinity coach, .said "We need to bring in as many players as possible from a full-time environment.

"Our first season in Super League will be all about consolidation and I relish the challenge."

Ferres said that the club had budgeted for average gates of 5,000. "We intend to give something to Super League, not to be a hindrance," he said.

Trinity's inclusion, alongside the new club at Gateshead, takes Super League to 14 for next season, eliminating the need for one club to have each weekend off and reducing the number of midweek games needed to make up the proposed 30 fixtures.

Wakefield's neighbours, Cas-tleford, have completed their overseas quota for next season by signing the Australian centre, Mike Eagar, from Warrington.

Eagar joins his fellow countrymen, Adrian Vowles, Aaron Raper and Dale Fritz, and the Fijian, James Pickering, as Castleford's overseas players.

"I watched Michael closely at Warrington this year and I was impressed," said the Cas coach, Stuart Raper. Eagar's arrival means that Castleford will not be retaining the New Zealander, Michael Smith.

"We made Michael a lucrative offer to stay at Wheldon Road, but I believe he has been badly misguided by his agent and he has accepted an offer to play at Hull," Raper said.

Salford have also filled their last import spot by recruiting the winger, Paul Carige, from Parramatta.

Great Britain coach, Andy Goodway, last night decided to postpone his team announcement for 24 hours to give his injured players more recovery time for the final Test against New Zealand at Watford tomorrow.

"I want to wait another day so that I can see how they are after training tomorrow," said Goodway.

Second-rower Adrian Morley (ankle) and stand-off Iestyn Harris (groin) also sat out yesterday's training session and remain doubtful, along with centre Paul Newlove (calf).

But scrum-half Tony Smith and centres Gary Connolly and Keith Senior appear to have shaken off knocks from the Bolton game and look certain to play.

Keiron Cunningham is Great Britain's latest doubt for the third and final Test.

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