Veterans' fitness concerns Bradford

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The Independent Online
Rugby League

Bradford Bulls are worried about the fitness of two of their handful of players with Wembley experience before finalising their side for this Saturday's Silk Cut Challenge Cup semi-final against Leeds at Huddersfield.

The biggest concern for their coach, Brian Smith, is the Australian centre, Graeme Bradley, who played in the final with Castleford in 1992. Bradley had a routine operation on his hand last week, but has had trouble with the mobility in his thumb since the cast was removed.

"He couldn't catch a ball this morning," Smith said yesterday. "But he is having intensive physiotherapy and we will give him until the last possible moment to get himself right." If Bradley fails to make it, there could be a place for Matt Calland, who has been suspended since January.

The utility forward, Bernard Dwyer, a Wembley veteran with finalists St Helens, has recovered more rapidly than expected from a groin operation and could come into contention.

St Helens yesterday learned that they will have to wait three months before they can officially appoint Mike Gregory as assistant coach. A League hearing in Leeds decided that Gregory will have to see out the rest of his playing contract with Salford.

The Welsh national coach, Clive Griffiths, has resigned from his backroom job at Warrington and is expected to be named as coach of the newly formed South Wales club later this week. Griffiths, who took over temporarily when Brian Johnson resigned last season, failed to get the full-time job when John Dorahy was appointed instead.

Players signed to Rupert Murdoch's Super League now say they want to start up their own competition after the Australian rejected a peace plan they put forward earlier this week. The 311 players had offered to return to the ARL for the first round of matches this weekend, but only under a series of conditions.

The ARL rejected those overtures yesterday and also said that the players' plan to operate their own competition would be against the terms of the court ruling which has prevented Super League from going ahead. Super League clubs which have been ordered to return to the ARL now seem certain to do so without the bulk of their best players.