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Chambers 'needs league education'

30 March 2008
bbc.co.uk

Dwain Chambers is "a long way" from appearing for Castleford in the Super League despite securing a trial at the club, says RFL chief Nigel Wood.

The controversial sprinter is considering a career in rugby league after his return to athletics from a drugs ban was met with opposition.

The 29-year-old will be unveiled at a news conference at Cas on Monday.

"This situation is merely a trial opportunity that the club is providing the athlete," Wood told BBC 5 Live.

"No contractual documentations have been lodged with the league and there's been no formal communication from the club."

Speaking later, following Castleford's 50-4 defeat by Bradford, coach Terry Matterson refused to be drawn on the possibility of Chambers joining his squad.

He admitted the club did not have a squad "big enough to handle Super League", but when asked about Chambers, he added: "That hasn't got a hell of a lot to do with me, I'm dealing with the footy team at the moment.

"I know a little bit about him but I'd rather not comment on it, to be honest."

Chambers returned from a two-year drugs ban to win 60m silver at this month's World Indoor Championships.

He was thought to be considering an appeal against the lifetime Olympic ban imposed upon him by the British Olympic Association.

But with many avenues in athletics blocked by disapproving promoters, a move into rugby league could signal the end of his running career.

However, Wood warned that Chambers - who had a brief spell in American Football with Hamburg Sea Devils - faces a lengthy spell adapting to the sport.

"Dwain Chambers has got some very admirable athletic qualities, with his explosive pace and power," Wood told 5 Live's Sportsweek.

"But there's myriad other skills that come with playing a ball-handling, tackling, collision sport and there's a long way to go before we see him in a first-team jersey at Castleford."

Former Great Britain and Wigan winger Martin Offiah believes Chambers could be successful in the 13-man code.

"It all depends on how much Dwain himself wants it to happen," Offiah told Sportsweek.

"It's a whole new ball game but human beings are very adaptable and it is definitely possible for someone like Dwain to reach the grade.

"If they've got an intelligent centre then obviously Dwain Chambers is far faster than I ever was, and I managed to score a quite a lot of tries, so who knows what could happen if you get him outside a good centre.

"Rugby league is a basic, honest game. A game you can learn while playing because if you actually make a mistake you just get up and play the ball, as long as Dwain doesn't go in touch.

"There are a lot of wingers in the past who haven't been the most gifted footballers but are very fast and, as I say, if you've got an intelligent centre inside you then he can use you. If you can catch the ball and run that's a big assets - if you can run as fast as Dwain can."

The Rugby Football League insists the decision to allow Chambers to join Castleford does not make it a "soft touch" for drug-users.

Earlier this month it banned former Hull and Warrington winger Richie Barnett for two years after he tested positive for testosterone.

Meanwhile, former England hooker Ryan Hudson returned to the game with Huddersfield just over a year ago after serving a two-year ban for use of the steroid stanozolol.

"We are committed to the principles of a drug-free sport and rugby league is considered one of the leading sports in the UK for its anti-doping testing and education programmes," said an RFL spokesman.

"We have a thorough and effective testing programme which last year tested over 650 athletes. Working with UK Sport, we also introduced blood tests last year to complement our existing urine testing programme.

"For the last three years we have been one of only two team sports in the UK to run out-of-competition testing where players have to fill in an on-line diary to tell testers of there whereabouts in between seasons."



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