Rugby League: Wakefield target Davies

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AMBITIOUS Wakefield Trinity confirmed last night that they had secured the finance that they hope will enable them to sign Jonathan Davies from Widnes. Local businessmen have underwritten the deal, on the understanding that they will be recompensed from the extra income that Davies's arrival would be expected to generate.

'We are now in a financial position to make a serious offer to both Jonathan and Widnes,' Rodney Walker, the Wakefield chairman, said. 'It remains for the Wakefield directors to decide whether they want to go ahead with that offer.'

Walker's worry is that Davies's terms - estimates of his Widnes wages vary between pounds 70,000 and pounds 80,000 - would inflate the expectations of other players. The Trinity coach, Dave Topliss, believes that will not be a problem. 'They have to understand that sponsorship is available because he is a special case,' he said. 'He is better known to more people than any player - including Martin Offiah, Ellery Hanley and Garry Schofield.'

Meanwhile, Widnes are moving towards becoming a limited company, something that their chairman, Jim Mills, believes would ease the financial crisis that makes them willing to sell Davies. 'We have to move with the times and it could make all the difference to our finances if we can get some investment into the club,' he said.

Graham Steadman, Great Britain's full-back until his ankle injury in the autumn, will lose his place to Simon Middleton in the Regal Trophy semi-final against Bradford Northern tomorrow. The Castleford coach, Darryl Van de Velde, said that Middleton had played so well as Steadman's understudy that he will be first choice now that he has recovered from the bruised back that kept him out of the draw against Wakefield Trinity last week, in which Steadman made his comeback.

The Premiership double-header at Old Trafford in May, is to become a triple-header this season. The final of the Academy Challenge Cup for youth teams will precede the Second and Third Division final and the Premiership final itself.