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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Varkulis halted in his tracks by injury

RICHARD Varkulis could have suffered a nasty knee injury in Whitehaven’s heavy league defeat at Doncaster on Sunday.

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injury doubt: Over Richard Varkulis

The ex-Widnes ace was hurt in the opening seconds of the game but bravely returned to the fray in the second-half.

He has started all five of Haven’s games this term in the No 10 shirt, and it’s likely that coach Don Gailer will be delving in to his squad for another prop on Sunday, when they host Rochdale Hornets (3pm)

“I’m waiting for a message, but there’s a fair chance he has suffered cartilage damage,” Gailer said.

“He’s probably highly unlikely to appear this weekend. He went down on the first set and said he would stay on and see how it went. But I had to bring him off.

“To his credit, he wanted to go back on later and see if he could turn things around. He tried hard but you could see it was hurting him.”

Haven are not spoiled for choice at prop this term, though veteran Howard Hill, yet to feature this term, is available.

Lee Doran, who is also capable of doing the hard yards in the front-row, will be welcomed back to the fray following his suspension, while his co-captain Scott McAvoy is recovering well from a knee injury and may return to a centre berth. But there are still concerns over winger Craig Calvert (neck).

Rochdale opened their league account with an emphatic 36-4 home win over London Skolars at the weekend.

“They will come up here with a lot of confidence after that,” added Gailer, who was satisfied with Haven’s home draw against National Conference Division One Hunslet Warriors in the Carnegie Challenge Cup third round.

Chief executive, Barry Richardson, believes the cup tie gives Haven the chance to build momentum heading in to Easter.

“They are quite a strong amateur side and it’s going to be very tough, we’ll have to be on top of our game,” he said.

“But we couldn’t have asked for more than a home draw and it’s a good opportunity to progress in the competition.

“It’s important now that we put a good run together. After Rochdale we have the Challenge Cup game and then Gateshead away, before the Workington game on Good Friday.

“It’s a chance to get some confidence and for the team to play well together.”

Meanwhile, the RFL is still backing the town’s under-threat £5.5 million community sports stadium as a venue for the Rugby League World Cup in 2013.

The planned project was thrown in to doubt when Recreation Ground landlords Whitehaven Miners Social Welfare upped the ante at the last moment by demanding £750,000 to allow access via their road to the Pow Beck site. It meant last Friday’s deadline for completing a deal was missed.

The Rugby Football League (RFL) has allocated the proposed stadium two matches in the tournament, to be broadcast around the world. And it is keeping faith that a deal can be struck.

“The local authority has kept us appraised what has been going on, and we will do what we can to make the stadium happen,” said an RFL spokesman.

“There are contingencies in place for every venue in the Rugby League World Cup, but it’s too early to think about moving games.

“We still expect to stage the Rugby League World Cup 2013 at the Pow Beck stadium next year.”

It is understood all the funding for the stadium is now in place and tenders evaluated. An agreement with the Miners is the only remaining stumbling block.

Partners in the project – Whitehaven Rugby League, Whitehaven Amateurs Football Club, Copeland Council and Britain’s Energy Coast – are pressing ahead with talks.

But time is short as World Cup fixtures will be unveiled on Thursday next week.

Richardson declined to discuss figures but urged that the Miners group be reasonable.

And he warned that the World Cup would be lost to Copeland if an agreement was not reached.

“The Rugby League World Cup will bring extra revenue to Copeland and excitement to sports fans and the community,” he added.

“The stadium is critical to the future of Whitehaven RL and the town. It’s very much a community stadium and could hold pop concerts and other events, for the betterment of the community.”

This week’s Pride of Five £100 winners are: D Charlton, Church Hill Drive, Moresby, with ticket number 3,102; D Graham, Stanley View, Whitehaven, 1,268; Rina Fakioglu, The Pack Horse, Whitehaven, 3,915; D Kelly, Kings Drive, Egremont, 731; Irene Bridson, Ullswater Avenue, Richmond, 1,589.

Leeds Line winners: N Gillon, R1592; L Whitley, G0997; Martin Astley, J2536; Anne Milner, U4026; B Blackburn, B1134.

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