Sydney fury at League's refusal for warm-up

Dave Hadfield
Monday 02 December 2002 01:00

The Sydney Roosters are threatening to bring a below-strength side to Britain for the World Club Challenge against St Helens, because of the Rugby League's refusal to allow them a warm-up game against Super League opposition. The League has scuppered Widnes' plans to play the Roosters last week and say they will only approve a game against non-Super League opponents.

The Sydney coach, Ricky Stuart, is unhappy with that and says he might bring a team of young players in February, simply for the experience, rather than put the reputations of first-choice players such as Brad Fittler and Britain's Adrian Morley on the line.

Gary Freeman is being tipped to retain his job as New Zealand coach after a mixed tour of Europe ended with a 36-10 victory over France in Perpignan on Saturday.

Freeman has been criticised at home over off-field problems and drawing a series against Great Britain he was expected to win, but the New Zealand Rugby League's director, Selwyn Bennett, who is to submit a report on the tour, will recommend he is kept on.

The second professional club in the capital, the London Skolars, will start life at their new level with a visit from Dewsbury next month. The club, founded by London-based graduates, has been admitted to the new National League Two, but their first fixture will be in the Buddies National Cup, which has been redesigned as a pre-season competition, on 18 January.

The other new club, the York City Knights, are also at home with one of the biggest names outside Super League, Hull KR, as their visitors.

The City Knights have been formed from the wreckage of the York Wasps, who went out of business and stopped midway through last season.

The city's new club will also have a home game when the National League Two kicks off on 18 April, with Gateshead Thunder – another club that had its problems last season – providing the opposition.

On the same day, the Skolars will host their first league game at the New River Stadium in Tottenham, against Sheffield Eagles.

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