Mellor ready to make his long-awaited debut for Cas

Dave Hadfield
Thursday 20 March 2003 01:00

Castleford have received a major boost for tomorrow's match at St Helens with the news that their main close-season signing, Paul Mellor, is fit to make a delayed debut for the club.

The 28-year-old Australian centre has been unable to play since having knee surgery last November, raising fears that Castleford might not get full value from their new recruit. "It's been a frustrating time for him and for us," said the Castleford coach, Graham Steadman. "It's been a long 14 weeks, for much of which he's been training in isolation. Now he's just excited about facing Saints."

The former Cronulla player is the man the Tigers are looking to for the attacking thrust that was sometimes missing last season. "He plays a similar style of football to Paul Newlove, so it will be a very interesting duel down that side of the field," said Steadman.

Cas – like Saints unbeaten in Super League this season – could be forced into a couple of other changes by injury, but Steadman is keeping the details to himself.

The Rugby League has confirmed that, for the first time, the Challenge Cup semi-finals will be played on the same ground, Huddersfield's McAlpine Stadium, on consecutive days, 12 and 13 April. The repeat of the last two seasons' semi between Leeds and St Helens will be staged on the Saturday, followed by the holders, Wigan, against Bradford the following day.

The decision has pleased Leeds, who have had to travel to Lancashire to play – and lose to Saints – for the last two years, and will also be a timely fillip for the stadium, which has been under pressure from Huddersfield Town's financial problems.

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