Schofield in attack on loyalty bonus 'disgrace'

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The Independent Online
Two of the game's leading players have warmed up for the Silk Cut Challenge Cup final at Wembley with furious attacks on the way they have been left out of the Super League bonanza.

The Leeds' stand-off, Garry Schofield, yesterday accused the Rugby League of channelling the "loyalty money" put up by Rupert Murdoch to try to prevent the poaching of players by the Australian Rugby League into shoring up Wigan's team.

"I want to know why only Wigan players are being looked after," he said. "Is Maurice Lindsay worried about his old Wigan side being broken up? There has been no more loyal player in the British game than me, but I've got nothing and no other Leeds player has had an offer of a loyalty bonus.

"It's a disgrace."

The outburst highlights the tensions created by a situation where some players are being offered huge sums of money to stay in the English game with Super League, while other leading lights like Schofield are getting nothing.

"There is a lot of resentment about it at Leeds and I can imagine there being a bit of sledging in the final," he said.

The majority of Wigan's Wembley squad are to receive payments in return for pledging themselves to the Super League. The notable exception is the Wigan and current Great Britain captain, Shaun Edwards.

"They have not offered me anything," Edwards said. "I have an offer from Australia that will be finalised this weekend and then Wigan might come back to me with an offer, I just don't know".

Like Schofield, Edwards argues that there has been no more loyal player than him, but it is clear that Murdoch's News Ltd is concentrating its resources on the players targeted by the ARL. With one or two exceptions, that does not include players in the final quarter of their careers.

"It has not been the ideal preparation," Edwards said. "I am going to find it extremely difficult in the future playing with players, some of them not even first-team regulars, who have been given large sums of money when I've got nothing."

Keighley Cougars' court case against the League for excluding them from the Super League has been adjourned until next Wednesday, while the club waits for the result of tomorrow's Rugby League meeting in Huddersfield which is expected to open the door for more sides to participate.

The Oldham forward David Bradbury has been suspended until the end of November. Bradbury was found guilty of "a vicious attack to the head" which left Castleford's Lee Harland with a fractured jaw.

Challenge Cup focus, page 44