Super League deny 'doomsday option'

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The Independent Online
Rugby League

DAVE HADFIELD

Super League executives in Australia have denied that they have plans to introduce a modified game, with 11-a-side and forward passes on the sixth tackle, if they lose their court case with the Australian .

The Sydney newspaper, The Sun-Herald, which has a good record with its stories on the breakaway organisation, says that the contingency plan is to launch a new code in order to get around a court decision banning the Australian Super League from starting up anywhere in the world this year.

The ARL has already taken steps to block an offshore competition, where Super League clubs would play in New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

The Sun-Herald believes that the "doomsday option" would be for a new game entirely.

The other changes would include the abolition of scrums and playing in four quarters with unlimited substitutions.

A decision on whether clubs can leave the ARL is expected at the end of the month, with an appeal probably carrying the case into February. The lawyers at Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which is financing Super League, must have a fall-back position up their sleeves in the event of the widely predicted legal defeat.

Trevor McEwan, the Super League's spokesman, denied, however, that this was it. He said that the 11-a-side blueprint "bears no relation to reality".

"It's an idea better suited to April Fool's Day," he added.

"The rules of the game as outlined border on the farcical."

Farcical or not, the idea that Super League in Australia could be forced into major structural changes has worrying implications for the game here.

Part of the Super League philosophy is that the competitions on both sides of the world should be played to identical rules, although the game in Britain could hardly be expected to go along with anything as radical as these suggestions.

Barrow have said that they will lose their Craven Park ground unless they attract 2,500 members to their new lottery by next week.

Another Barrow, the Swinton coach, Tony Barrow, is stepping up to become chief executive. The club is now looking for a candidate to take over his coaching duties.

St Helens will have three of their injured first-teamers, Joey Hayes, Keiron Cunningham and Chris Joynt, fit for the postponed Regal Trophy semi-final against Warrington tomorrow. Paul Newlove and Anthony Sullivan, though, are regarded as very unlikely to play.

Warrington hope to have Iestyn Harris and Paul Sculthorpe available, but their Australian forward, Dave King, is likely to be missing for three months after damaging his hand against Wigan on New Year's Day.

The former Wakefield Trinity forward, David Woods, has been found dead in his car at Burleigh Heads in Australia. Police say there were no suspicious circumstances connected with his death at the age of 29.

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