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globalrugbyleague - Sat, 17 Mar 2007 16:17:00 GMT
Super League is set to lose one of its outstanding young talents to the dark side of rugby union as we go into round six.

Wigan Warriors fullback Chris Ashton is close to signing a playing contract with Guinness Premiership side Northampton Saints RUFC.

The young starlet has allegedly been offered more than twice as much wages as he is currently earning with the Warriors to switch codes.

Surely the RFL have to introduce some sort of protection plan into our game so that we can keep the best young talent in league.

Round six kicks off with Wigan travelling to the Willows on Friday night to face Salford. It has certainly been an eventful week for the Warriors with increasing worries over losing Ashton.

The Wigan club had a late bid turned down in an attempt to prize away Lote Tuqiri from union, who signed a five year extension to his current contract with the NSW Waratahs.

Ex Wigan wing Brian Carney this week came out of retirement and after reports that Brian Noble wanted the Irishman back with the Cherry and Whites, Carney signed for Munster RUFC.

Wigan will be without Michael Withers for the trip to the Willows which opens the door for Ashton to return to the starting 13.

Prop Paul Highton is set to make his first appearance of 2007 for the Reds after recovering from a calf strain.

Second placed Wakefield will hope to reach the ten points mark this weekend if they can turn over their Yorkshire rivals Leeds.

The Rhinos head coach Tony Smith has been hotly tipped this week for the vacant role of Great Britain head coach. Smith’s contract with the Rhinos comes to an end after this year, but he insists he is happy at Leeds.

For the game, Leeds welcome back Keith Senior, although young Lee Smith is set to miss out with a hip injury.

The Wildcats include Ryan Atkins in place of Waine Pryce and 18 year old prop Dale Ferguson is set to make his debut in place of the injured Danny Sculthorpe.

The KC Stadium is the venue for the rematch of last year’s Grand Final between Hull FC and St. Helens.

Since their World Club Challenge success, Saints have been rampant and now the return of skipper Paul Sculthorpe for their weekend fixture is sure to help them reach an even higher level of performance.

Hull are without Great Britain prop Gareth Carvell and influential half Paul Cooke once again.

Pointless Huddersfield enters the Dragons’ den on Saturday to face Les Catalans at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.

After losing hooker Aaron Gorrell for the season, Les Catalans have this week signed Danny Buderus’ understudy at the Knights; Luke Quigley.

He has not arrived in time to be included in Mick Potter’s squad to face the Giants and Super League XI top try scorer Justin Murphy also misses out through injury.

Huddersfield are at full strength and will hope to get their season going in the south of France.

ESL coach of the month for February Brian McDermott goes against his former Bradford team mate Steve McNamara as the Quins entertain the Bulls on St. Patrick’s Day.

The Broncos boast the best defence whilst Bradford has scored the most points of Super League XII.

For the London based side Richard Villasanti is set to make his debut after recently signing from Cronulla and Lee Hopkins returns from injury.

Bradford are without suspended hooker Terry Newton, and youngsters Matt Cook and Craig Kopczak miss out on the 17. Big Joe Vagana is set to make his 200th appearance for the Bulls.

Justin Morgan’s Hull KR travel to the Halliwell Jones Stadium to face Paul Cullen’s wounded Wolves.

After being demolished in round five by St. Helens, Warrington will hope to put on a good show for their supporters.

The Wolves are without both halfbacks Chris Bridge and Lee Briers but Richie Barnett and hard man Adrian Morley return.

Hull KR welcome back Pat Weisner and Danny Ward, although second row Michael Smith has been released from his contract and returns to his family in New Zealand.

THE RICH ROUND SIX TIPS: Warriors to beat Reds by 10. Wildcats to beat Rhinos by 6. Saints to beat Hull FC by 24. Dragons to beat Giants by 8. Bulls to beat Quins by 8. Robins to beat Wolves by 2. - Read More, Here