Warrington say Davies will not revert to union

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The Independent Online
Rugby League

Jonathan Davies goes into tomorrow's championship game at Castleford with his club, Warrington, dismissing the latest speculation about their utility back returning to rugby union. The former Wales captain, who turned professional with Widnes in 1989 before moving to Warrington two years ago, has been constantly linked with a switch to his former code.

There are now even suggestions that the Welsh Rugby Union wants Davies to lead its Five Nations' Championship challenge early next year. It is reported that the WRU has made an informal approach for Davies to return to his former code.

However, Peter Higham, the Warrington chairman, insists: "They [the WRU] have never made an approach to us and we are just dismissing it. Jonathan is under contract to us until June 1997."

Davies himself says: "My first priority is to Warrington. I will certainly be staying in league for the time being and will take the future as it comes.

"I want to concentrate on the World Cup with Wales, who have a great chance."

Davies, who has said next month's World Cup will mark his international farewell, has been renegotiating his contract with Warrington. It is due to expire in the middle of the second Super League season.

If Warrington were to decide to release him early, they would probably demand a sizeable fee for the loss of his services. Despite his age - he is 33 next month -Davies is still one of the game's most explosive players and is also one of leading goal-kickers.

New Zealand are awaiting fitness tests on three of their leading players in the countdown to the Centenary World Cup, which begins on 7 October.

They are concerned about the Auckland hooker Syd Eru (badly infected facial injury) and the Canberra Raiders forward Quentin Pongia. The Kiwis will be keeping a particularly close watch on the captain, Matthew Ridge, in tomorrow's Grand Final. The Manly full-back has been suffering from a painful rib injury which he picked up in last week's defeat of Newcastle Knights.

New Zealand will also be hoping that the Sydney City Bulldogs backs Daryl Halligan, John Timu and Jason Williams emerge unscathed from the Grand Final.

Australia, the world champions and favourites to win next month's 10- nation competition, will announce their 25-man squad after the game. Manly, led by the Kangaroos' coach, Bobby Fulton, have a host of players in the 40-strong squad and are still likely to be well represented when that number is reduced by nearly half. Australia arrive in Britain next Thursday, while New Zealand, who have already named their 25 players, touch down on Sunday week.