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Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
Bulldogs withdraw Paul offer
Henry Paul in action
Paul is the subject of a transfer tug-of-war
Canterbury Bulldogs have rescinded their offer to Bradford Bulls ace Henry Paul and accused him of "unprofessional conduct".

The Bulldogs's withdrawal from the bidding appears to have left Paul with a straightforward choice between staying with Bradford or switching to rugby union.


We've been messed around for long enough now
  Bob Hagan, Canterbury Bulldogs chief executive

The 27-year-old stand-off is a long-time target of England rugby union coach Clive Woodward and the player has received offers to play union in New Zealand.

But Bradford are hopeful of persuading the player to stay at Odsal.

Paul has promised the Bulls a decision after he plays for New Zealand in Friday's Test match against Australia in Wellington.

Canterbury were considered favourites to land his signature, based on the fact that Paul has a long-held ambition to test himself in the NRL, but the Belmore club say they have now withdrawn their offer.

"We've been messed around for a long time now and we don't want to be used as a pawn in Henry's efforts to seek a contract with the All Blacks," Bulldogs chief executive Bob Hagan told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I spoke with him this morning at the request of his manager, Simon Burgess, who is very embarrassed that Henry's acted in such an unprofessional way.

"We have done everything right in our dealings with him but have been thoroughly exasperated by the manner in which he's handled the situation."

Options

Paul, who has an English grandparent, appears to have turned down Woodward's England.

But he could switch codes in his native country after receiving offers from Super 12 outfits Auckland Blues and Waikato Chiefs.

Paul's wife and baby son recently returned home to New Zealand and that could have a bearing on his decision, although Bulls coach Brian Noble insists the Super League giants are well in the frame.


I'm disappointed with Henry
  Simon Burgess, Henry Paul's manager

"I'm still pretty hopeful that he'll stay with us," said Noble.

"I don't think it's cut and dried that he's going elsewhere.

"I know he's had some substantial offers from elsewhere but he's also had a substantial offer from us."

Paul's manager Simon Burgess confirmed that he had all but split with the prolific points-scorer, adding: "I'm disappointed with Henry.

"I think Henry has got too many third parties involved and it might be clouding his judgment. I think he might regret his decision not to test himself in the NRL."

Paul has consistently said that he would not make any decision on his future until after the 13 July Test, and the Bulls expect to be informed first.

Brian Noble
Noble claims that Bradford could still hold onto Paul

"Henry will come home first and weigh up all his options," said Noble.

"He's been black and white throughout, I'll give him credit for that.

"He hasn't made his mind up and he won't make his decision until he looks at what is in the basket.

"I'll be one of the first to know, along with his agent. But he won't make a decision until he gets back from New Zealand.

"It's probably the biggest move of his career and I understand the time he's taking over that. It shows we're still in the frame because he hasn't made his mind up yet."

The Paul brothers will catch the first available flight back to England after Friday's match but are not expected to be back in time for Sunday's home game against Castleford.

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