RUGBY LEAGUE: Thunder test the Scottish option

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HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN Football Club are to test the water for a possible Super League franchise application by staging Gateshead Thunder's home game against Wigan on Sunday 1 August.

The code's return to Tynecastle Park follows the success of last season's fixture there between Bradford and London, which attracted a crowd of more than 7,000.

With the Gateshead International Stadium previously booked for an athletics meeting that weekend, the Thunder have to find a new venue. They are writing to their season ticket holders offering them free transport to the game. A spokesman for Hearts said that although plans for a club, to be known as Scottish Bravehearts, were at an early stage, the match would enable them to assess the likely appeal of the idea.

Super League had also hoped to announce that another of Wigan's away games, against Sheffield Eagles, is going on the road to Leicester, but negotiations have still to be completed.

The Leeds captain, Iestyn Harris, has joined the lucrative world of personal endorsements. Harris, who will lead his side in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley on Saturday week, has accepted what is described as "a substantial five-figure sum" from Tissot, the Swiss watchmakers.

Leeds' Cup final opponents, London Broncos, are to have Shaun Edwards' broken thumb X-rayed again next week before deciding whether he can play at Wembley.

Plans for the Salford hooker, Malcolm Alker, to return to their side against Gateshead on Sunday have been shelved because he has suffered a recurrence of his shoulder injury.