Rugby League: Unsettled Broadbent finds home at Halifax

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The Independent Online
A DAY of wheeling and dealing has left three clubs believing that they will be better equipped for Super League next season.

Halifax captured the biggest name by signing the Great Britain prop, Paul Broadbent, from Sheffield Eagles. Broadbent, the Sheffield captain at Wembley in May, had been on the market since failing to negotiate an improved contract.

His deal to join Halifax, who surprisingly reached third place last season, also seemed to have fallen through over personal terms, but the loose ends were tied up yesterday with Broadbent and Nick Pinkney moving to the Shay and three players - Martin Pearson, Daio Powell and Simon Baldwin - travelling in the opposite direction.

"It's a sad loss to the club to lose a player of Paul Broadbent's experience," said the Sheffield coach, John Kear.

"However we feel we've made the most of the situation by strengthening in key areas of our squad. The three players we have gained will help us build our challenge in Super League and our bid to retain the Challenge Cup."

All three were regular members of Halifax's first-team squad last season, with Powell, a centre, coming close to selection for Great Britain. Sheffield are now well served in that position, with the Great Britain international, Keith Senior, and their signing from Australia, Karl Lovell, both specialists at centre.

Pearson will become an option at stand-off, as well as full-back, whilst Baldwin's presence in the back row of the pack could allow yet another new recruit, Jeff Hardy, to move to stand-off if required.

"With the decision to cut our squad to 22 players, versatility is a valuable commodity," said Kear.

Pinkney, the former York and Keighley winger or centre, had been earmarked to join Wakefield Trinity, but Halifax asked for him as part of the Broadbent deal.

Meanwhile, another of the close season's busier clubs, Hull, signed the Wigan forward Steve Holgate yesterday. The young second rower, Steve Barrow, also joined them, on a free transfer from the same club.

Holgate was prop in Wigan's starting line-up in the Challenge Cup Final in May, but their forward strength has made him available. Barrow is returning on a permanent basis to the club with whom he spent a brief period on loan last season.

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