Super League turmoil after Wigan spark clubs’ revolt

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Plans for a major re-structuring of domestic rugby league have been thrown into disarray after a majority of Super League clubs voiced their opposition to the proposals on the table.

The Rugby Football League had called an extraordinary general meeting for tomorrow which was expected to finalise arrangements for a new league comprising two divisions of 12 teams and the restoration of automatic promotion and relegation from 2015.

However, a revolt led by Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan has prompted the RFL to postpone the EGM, due to be held in Leeds, until after the World Cup, which runs until the end of November.

A statement issued by the RFL said: “A majority of Super League clubs have indicated an interest in further consultation on the detail of the proposals in order to reach the best solution.

“These discussions will continue to positively progress but all parties involved are unanimous in their belief that the key focus for rugby league at this moment is staging a successful Rugby League World Cup 2013 and this should be the focus of the sport.

“The RFL will be making no further comment at this time.”

The shock development is an embarrassing climbdown for the governing body and threatens to undermine the credibility of RFL chief executive Nigel Wood, who was the driving force behind the policy review.

Lenagan called a meeting of Super League clubs in Warrington yesterday when it is thought they agreed to put pressure on the RFL to apply the brakes to the restructuring proposals.

The Wigan owner is concerned that the plans would weaken the financial position of Super League clubs in comparison to those in the Championship, who would receive more central funding under the reorganisation.

It is also believed Lenagan urged representatives to stick with a 
14-team division, even though the Super League clubs had three times voted to go down to 12.

Australia have named three uncapped players in their squad for the Rugby League World Cup which begins later this month.

Sydney Roosters back-row Boyd Cordner, Cronulla Sharks prop Andrew Fifita and Canberra Raiders back-row Josh Papalii take their place in the 24-man squad as Australia look to regain the trophy lost to New Zealand in 2008.

Australia had won the previous six World Cups and Cameron Smith will captain a team that will be favourites for the tournament which begins on October 26.

Justin Hodges, Kurt Gidley and Anthony Watmough all missed out through injury.

Australia will meet up on October 10 before flying to the UK four days later where they will meet England in the tournament opener at the Millennium Stadium. They will then face Fiji on November 2 and Ireland on November 9 in their other Group A matches.

Australia squad for Rugby League World Cup: Smith (c), Gallen, Bird, Boyd, Cherry-Evans, Cordner, Cronk, Farah, Fifita, Hayne, Inglis, Jennings, Lewis, B Morris, J Morris, Myles, Papalii, Parker, Scott, Slater, Tamou, Tate, Thaiday, Thurston.