Warrington pin pounds 1.35m price tag on Harris

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The Independent Online
Rugby League

Alex Murphy, the Warrington coach, fears Iestyn Harris has been tempted into leaving the club for a possible world record pounds 1.35m fee by "other forces" promising him riches elsewhere.

Harris, who celebrated his 20th birthday last month, has been the subject of speculation recently linking him with a move to several union clubs, including Saracens, Cardiff and Llanelli.

The previous record fee was pounds 250,000 plus two players which St Helens paid Bradford for Paul Newlove last season. The deal was thought to be worth pounds 500,000.

Harris, a Welsh international, was transfer-listed by Wire yesterday after he asked for a move, with Murphy reluctantly admitting: "We are very disappointed but he has the rugby world at his feet and we feel our valuation is realistic."

"It has never been our policy to stand in the way of unsettled players - but he won't be moving unless a club comes up with the money we are requesting."

"We believe that there have been other forces involved - outside our control. People have been speaking to him, obviously realising what a talent he is and obviously unsettling the kid. Maybe that's had some effect. It will be very, very interesting when all this breaks down to see which club he goes to - and what code he goes to," added Murphy.

"Things started going amiss when he went back to the valleys, so you can read into that what you want. As soon as he started playing back in Wales he started getting little bits of news from the media and things like that, and things started getting a little bit rocky."

Another Welshman, Scott Gibbs, is set to turn his back on the Super League leaders, St Helens, and return to rugby union. Llanelli, Cardiff and one of Gibbs' former clubs, Swansea, are putting firm offers together to persuade Saints to release the Welsh international. But St Helens are adamant they will not sell for less than pounds 200,000.

"There has been renewed interest from Wales, but we will only let Scott go at the right price," the Saints chief executive, David Howes, said. "He has told us he'd prefer to return to union in Wales. We will be reluctant to let him go because he is a top player," he said.

Richmond pulled out of the bidding for Gibbs at pounds 170,000 and now hope to sign the former Neath and Warrington centre, Allan Bateman, from the Australian side Cronulla on a three-year contract. Negotiations are at an advanced stage, but Cronulla are determined to hang on to Bateman until September. "There is no way he's going back before then as we are on target for a play-off place and Allan has been playing exceptionally well," Shane Richardson, the chief executive of Cronulla, said.

The imminent return of Gibbs and Bateman is good news for the Welsh national team and both have been ear-marked for pounds 30,000 international-squad contracts.

The former Western Samoan rugby union international Shem Tatupu is switching back to the 15-a-side code and joining Northampton after failing to break into the Wigan first team since turning professional last September.

The Central Park club have agreed to release him from his four-year contract despite their injury crisis. Northampton will pay a fee of pounds 80,000 and Wigan are expected to use the cash to sign a prop forward.

Richard Henare, Warrington's New Zealand winger, has been referred to tomorrow's Rugby Football League's disciplinary committee meeting by the executive committee. They made the decision after viewing a video of the fighting that broke out in the second half of Saturday's match between Warrington and Bradford.