Wigan to probe alleged binge

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The Independent Online
Rugby League

Wigan are to investigate claims that a training week in Tenerife before their remarkable Challenge Cup defeat by Salford allegedly degenerated into a drunken binge that left one player unconscious.

Allegations from a holidaymaker and the manager of the apartments where the players were staying of general bad behaviour and of a player collapsing after a drinking session appeared in a Wigan newspaper. "I was really annoyed to read on my return that the players had supposedly gone to Tenerife in readiness for an important cup match," the paper quoted the holidaymaker as saying.

The Wigan chairman, Jack Robinson, has criticised his coach, Graeme West, for letting the players go away just before the tie at Salford, which Wigan lost to end a 43-game unbeaten spell stretching over eight years of the competition. "If it had been up to me, I would not have let them go," he said of the trip, from which one player, Mick Cassidy, returned with a broken toe.

"I know nothing about these alleged incidents, but I will certainly be investigating. They are a very lively crowd and I have no complaints about that, but when you are in the public eye you have to be on your best behaviour all the time."

Robinson had to warn Wigan's players about drunken behaviour last year, when a group of them were accused of causing scenes on a train returning from the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year awards.

Meanwhile, Wigan's forward, Andy Farrell, has been named as England captain for the World Nines in Fiji this week. Farrell replaces Denis Betts, who injured his ankle in a trial match with the Auckland Warriors last weekend.

Also in Fiji, the meeting of the Super League world board has approved a series of rule changes to be used in the domestic competitions kicking off next month. The most significant is a "zero tackle" rule, under which a player fielding a kick and running the ball back will not have that tackle counted in the permitted six.

Morocco, Japan, the United States, Russia and Moldova have been affiliated to the board, which has also adopted the International Olympic Committee's charter on drug use, which means life bans for a second positive test for anabolic steroids. It was also agreed that Pacific nations will in future receive pounds 2,500 towards local development when any Super League club signs one of their players.