Rugby League: Weather may swell 'no' vote

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The Independent Online
THE weather may do the game a favour this week by focusing minds on the possible results of combining a similar cold snap with an expanded First Division. The League's member clubs meet in Leeds tomorrow to vote on a restructuring proposal which, among other benighted notions, would increase the top flight from 14 to 16 clubs.

But God - or at least Ian McCaskill - may be a rugby league fan because the fixture chaos caused by recent postponements looks likely to sway a number of votes. Another factor which may deny the plan the necessary majority is that several of the bigger clubs are unhappy with the suggestion that the county cups should be mandatory, pre-season competitions.

Three Wigan players who missed Saturday's Regal Trophy semi-final win over Hull are fit for tonight's First Division match at home to Warrington - club captain Dean Bell, Martin Dermott and Denis Betts. Paul Atcheson, impressive in his debut on Saturday, drops down to substitute.

With Martin Crompton and Billy McGinty injured against Hull, Barrie-Jon Mather, equally effective in the match, is retained in the second row.

The Warrington coach, Brian Johnson, delays a decision on whether to include his club captain, Bob Jackson, in the squad after a bout of flu and has resisted any temptation to bring back Mike Gregory, the former Great Britain captain, who has made a good recovery from a third knee operation, against his home-town team.

Jonathan Davies, another player who has captained Great Britain, is in line to return to the Widnes side for the first time since 8 November for the match at Salford tomorrow. Davies, whose possible departure from Naughton Park will be the subject of speculation until the transfer deadline next Monday, has had a groin operation.