Guisset back in Super League to ease Wigan's forward problems

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The Independent Online

Wigan will complete their squad for the Super League season that starts this weekend by signing the French forward Jerome Guisset.

The Warriors have seen their forward resources depleted by injuries to Andy Farrell and Luke Davico - with Davico's being likely to end his career. "It's terrible luck for him and we still have to discuss his future with him,'' said the Wigan chairman, Maurice Lindsay. "We need reinforcements in the forwards and we think that Guisset can do a good job for us.''

Guisset has been playing rugby union in France since leaving Warrington at the end of the last Super League season and is currently on tour with the French Sevens squad in New Zealand.

St Helens will this week release Michael Smith, the New Zealand international they signed from Castleford on a two-year contract at the end of last season. Smith has been unwilling to move from his home in Hull and declined to go on the club's pre-season training camp in Spain.

"He hasn't trained for two weeks and is going to be released,'' said the Saints coach, Ian Millward. Saints are also set to release the former Wigan prop Ricky Bibey to Oldham on a season-long loan.

The new London Broncos new captain, Francis Stephenson, will miss the first month of the season after suffering a knee injury. "I think I'm the first English captain at the Broncos for a long time,'' said Stephenson. "It's a big honour and this is bad timing, but it's the nature of the game we play.''

Super League is to carry a new name this season, with a new two-year, seven-figure sponsorship deal with Exchange Mutual Assurance, who replace Tetley's as the competition's main backers.

Another major change for the 10th season of Super League will be the requirement that coaches name their squads in advance - partly in order to avoid controversies like the St Helen's betting scandal last season.

The six teams playing this Friday night must name a 20-man squad today and reduce it to 18 the day before the game. Millward, whose team selection at Bradford at Easter was largely responsible for the change, gave it a guarded welcome yesterday. "It can be very difficult on a Tuesday to know what your team will be at the weekend,'' he said. "I hope we are not doing it just to make life easier for the bookies.''

Saints already know that they will be without Keith Mason and Jason Hooper for their opening match against Widnes on Friday, in which their new Australian signing Jamie Lyon will make his competitive debut.

Lyon left his Australian club, Parramatta, at the start of last season claiming to have lost his appetite for the game. "But I've got the hunger back,'' he said.