Rugby league: Thunder chase Ireland winger

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The Independent Online
BRIAN CARNEY, the Irish winger who has made such an impact in the Home International series, is torn between offers from at least two Super League clubs. The Dublin Blues player, who impressed against both France two weeks ago and Scotland on Wednesday night, is being pursued by Salford and Gateshead Thunder.

"We have flown him over and shown him around the place," said the Gateshead chief executive, Shane Richardson. "If it comes down to money we'll probably miss out, but if it comes down to opportunity he'd be better off with us. In this environment and under the coaching of Shaun McRae, we believe he could really develop."

The counter-attraction of Salford, an established club with the Irish coach, Steve O'Neill, on its staff is strong, but Carney said: "There are a lot of factors to think about and I'm not rushing into anything. I want to play Super League, but it is a very big step for me."

One player Gateshead have signed is the 6ft 6in loose forward Stuart Singleton, from the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff, who starred in the last Student World Cup in Australia. Although originally from Warrington, Singleton developed his game out of the rugby league mainstream and is another example of the way that Gateshead are looking in the less than obvious places for players.

Another who is being given a chance with the Thunder is the French centre, Fabien Berenger. He is from the Lyon club, but spent a successful season with Richardson's club in Brisbane.

Gateshead have been told that they cannot launch their existence with a high-profile friendly against the London Broncos in February, because it may coincide with the World Club Championship between Wigan and Brisbane, earmarked for Bolton on 6 February.