Schofield may return in Cup

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The Independent Online
Garry Schofield became a Huddersfield player yesterday, but could still return to help Leeds to Wembley, writes Dave Hadfield.

Schofield has joined his new club on a four-year playing contract which also involves him assisting Darryl van de Velde with coaching. However, Leeds, who received a fee of around pounds 130,000 for the 30-year-old former Great Britain captain, still hope to borrow him back for their Silk Cut Challenge Cup semi-final against Bradford Bulls on 23 March.

The transfer to Huddersfield was agreed before Leeds' other specialist stand-off, Tony Kemp, broke his arm in the quarter-final victory at Halifax on Sunday.

"We have asked whether Garry could be available for the semi-final," Dean Bell, the Leeds coach, said. "Subject to all the insurance requirements being met, both he and Huddersfield seem quite keen on the idea."

There is a precedent this season for what might sound like a strange arrangement. Sonny Whakarau, who had already signed for Keighley, was allowed to play on loan for Wakefield Trinity at Bradford on Sunday, scoring a hat-trick of tries.

Schofield, who has been out of action with a shoulder injury, could be fit in time for Leeds' semi-final, but would not be able to play at Wembley, because Huddersfield's season in the First Division will have begun by then.

At the Alfred McAlpine Stadium yesterday, it was that new career there that interested him. "I haven't come here to play First Division rugby," he said. "I don't feel I've taken a step down, because our ambition here is to get into the Super League at the first attempt. Something big is going to happen at Huddersfield and I want to be part of it."

Van de Velde called his new right-hand man "one of the most experienced players in rugby league and one of the best stand-offs in the world".

The club's chairman, Ken Davy, said: "We felt we were developing a good squad but were lacking a nationally-known personality - someone the supporters and media could instantly identify with."

Schofield joined Leeds in a then record pounds 155,000 deal in 1987 and would have been due for a testimonial next year. "Nobody has pushed him out," Bell said. "He asked me for an extension to his contract which I felt I couldn't give him. It is a new thing for Leeds, who have probably tended to cling on to their stars right to the end. This is more the Wigan way of doing things."

The other semi-final drawn last night paired the Cup favourites, St Helens, with Widnes on 9 March.

SILK CUT CHALLENGE CUP Semi-final draw: St Helens v Widnes (tie to played 9 March); Leeds v Bradford Bulls (23 March).