Super Leaguers set to lift ban

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Rugby League

In the first real sign of compromise for months, Super League players in Australia have offered to lift their boycott on playing in the Australian 's competition in time to start the season there this weekend.

The condition the 311 players have set is that they should be allowed to organise their own international series - between New South Wales, Queensland and New Zealand - open only to Super League players.

They are also insisting that the two new clubs formed for Super League - the Adelaide Rams and the Hunter Valley Mariners - should be incorporated in the ARL's Optus Cup.

The European Super League's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay, who is in Australia to try to find a way out of the impasse, says the compromise could also save the proposed World Club Championship and Great Britain tour at the end of this season.

"The proposal provides a reasonable deal for everyone," he said. "It would, in fact, be a small victory for all parties concerned."

The players, who have insisted all along that they would not play for the ARL, are certainly changing their ground.

"A lot of players have made very hard decisions on this and it's very hard for us to come and swallow our pride," said the former Test centre, Chris Johns, a spokesman for the Super League players.

The problem is that the ARL might find some of the players' suggestions equally hard to swallow. The ARL's chairman, Ken Arthurson, said that the proposal would be discussed today by representatives of the 12 clubs that have remained loyal to the ruling body during the bitter feud.

The Leeds forward, Adrian Morley, who will play in this Saturday's Silk Cut Challenge Cup semi-final against Bradford, has signed a new four-year contract with the club.