Wigan join the hunt for Newlove

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The Independent Online
Rugby League

DAVE HADFIELD

The board of the Bradford Bulls has met to discuss a late bid for the pounds 750,000-rated Paul Newlove, who is being linked with a move to Wigan.

The Great Britain centre, unsettled since the arrival of Brian Smith as Bradford coach in place of his mentor, Peter Fox, has been pursued by Leeds, St Helens and Castleford. However, a late run on the rails from the game's leading club could see him on his way to Central Park.

"A very big club has made an approach, involving players in part-exchange, which is very interesting indeed," said Smith, who is also Bradford's chief executive.

Wigan, who set the existing world transfer record when they paid Widnes pounds 440,000 for Martin Offiah almost four years ago, would not top that for Newlove, said their chairman, Jack Robinson. "And we have the centre positions well covered by Gary Connolly and Va'aiga Tuigamala," he said.

Wigan have the players, including a number based in Yorkshire, who would tempt Bradford into an part-exchange deal, however. Their prop, Kelvin Skerrett, made his name at Bradford and they have considered off-loading the Test winger, Jason Robinson, who is due to join the Australian when his contract expires.

One deal that is going through is an exchange that takes two of Bradford's most experienced players, Deryck Fox and Roy Powell, to Featherstone, with the centre, Matt Calland, travelling in the opposite direction. The move takes Fox back to his original club. Both he and Powell are former Great Britain internationals who will leave gaps to be filled at Odsal, but Smith has been determined to lower the average age of his squad.

Hull, who have warned Bradford that they have no intention of donating Richard Gay and Steve McNamara to Smith's rebuilding programme cheaply, will play in front of one of the game's most historic structures for the last time tonight. The remaining section of the Threepenny Stand will be demolished after the game against Batley, to be replaced by a bigger standing area.

The Castleford coach, John Joyner, has reacted to defeats against the London Broncos and Carlisle by making sweeping changes, including the return of Lee Crooks and Tony Smith after injury, for tonight's match at home to Wigan.

The League's executive committee has cleared the Leeds captain, Garry Schofield, of an allegation of head-butting in the Regal Trophy tie against Salford after viewing a video of the incident. It is still possible, however, for Salford to cite him if they can produce further evidence.

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