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Monday, 22 January, 2001, 15:21 GMT
Hanley to switch codes
Steve Hanley
Hanley (centre) is unlikely to make the Saints first team
Sale and England winger Steve Hanley is set to buck the rugby trend and move to Rugby League champions St Helens.

Hanley, who played rugby league as a youngster in Cumbria, will go to Saints at the end of the season.

The proposed move will only happen if Hanley fails to make either the British Lions tour to Australia or England's summer trip to America.

The code switch is the idea of Sale chief executive Peter Deakin, a pioneer of closer links between the two codes.

The former Bradford and Warrington chief oversaw the move of Jason Robinson and Apollo Perelini from league last October and at one time pushed a merger of the Warrington and Sale clubs.

Competition for places

St Helens coach Ian Millward has welcomed the proposal, although he does not envisage the 22-year-old Hanley playing Super League.

"It would be a great educational process and it won't affect our budget," said Millward.

"He will train with us and play some Alliance matches. He would have to really stand out to get in our first team. We've got some good outside backs."

Hanley's planned move is a further sign that the two codes are starting to work closer together.

For many years, before rugby union became professional, players who made the switch to league were not allowed to switch back. But in the professional era that is no longer an issue.

"If you talk to a number of rugby union players, they do admire our game," added Millward.

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