Rugby Union: Clubs await League verdict

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The Independent Online
THE THREE new clubs bidding for a Super League franchise for next season are still waiting impatiently to learn their fate.

Cardiff, Swansea and Gateshead all had the reports on their financial viability - prepared by the accountants, Deloitte Touche - assessed by the directors of both Super League and the Rugby League yesterday.

Both bodies were tight-lipped about their recommendations after their separate discussions, but it is a meeting of Super League clubs in Huddersfield tomorrow that will make the vital decision.

The wind has been blowing in the direction of accepting all three clubs, but even if they were to come in on a smaller cash allocation from News Ltd, that would mean considerably less money for existing clubs.

"We are all waiting to hear," said Peter Tunks, who is heading Cardiff's bid for Super League status. "But no-one has been able to give us any indication of the way it is going."

The uncertainty over next season has led to Tunks releasing Cronulla's centre or winger, Nick Zisti, from an agreement to join Cardiff, so that he can sign for Bradford.

Zisti, who played for the Hunter Mariners in the World Club Championship last year, has agreed a three-year contract with the Bulls.

"It was a good offer and it was only fair to release him," said Tunks, who has also denied any interest in bringing the former Wigan forward, Scott Quinnell, back to rugby league with the new Cardiff franchise.

Zisti is the second Bradford signing for next season, following the recruitment of the Balmain centre, Michael Withers.

One newly-arrived Australian is bidding strongly for the title of the season's unluckiest import. Shane Kenward has found that he dislocated his wrist just 40 minutes into his debut for Salford on Sunday. The former St George half-back was hurt in a tackle by Leeds' Adrian Morley and had surgery on the wrist yesterday. Kenward, who was on trial for the rest of the season and hoping to win a contract for next year, has told the club that he hopes to play again before the end of this campaign.

Another Salford player, Paul Forber, has been called before today's disciplinary hearing after being placed on report for allegedly striking an opponent during the game against Leeds.

New Zealand have withdrawn their threat to boycott the Tests against Great Britain this autumn if their British-based players are not released to play against Australia.