Sam set for op, Aizue waits

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HALIFAX forward Sam Barlow will have ankle surgery at the end of this month.

The former Siddal junior, who represented Scotland in this autumn’s internationals, had a scan last week and will now go under the knife next week.

But coach Karl Harrison admits he is still waiting to find out how long Barlow - who attracted close-season transfer interest from Super League outfit Hull KR before re-signing with his hometown club - will be sidelined.

“Sam’s going in on November 30 for the operation, but we’ll have to wait for the full medical report before we know what the recovery time is going to be,” said Harrison.

“It’s frustrating for Sam and us, because it’s probably going to leave him playing catch-up in terms of his fitness compared to the rest of the boys.

“But we have plenty of cover in the forward pack, so I don’t see it being a major problem for us.”

Fax are still waiting to see if another pack regular, the Papua New Guinea prop Makali Aizue, will need similar treatment.

The veteran visited a specialist last week and now faces a second appointment before a final decision is made.

“Makali’s going to see someone else, they’re going to take a scan and we’ll see what happens from there,” said Harrison.

“To be fair, Makali has been training with us, even though it’s bothering him.

“I think there’s still a chance that an injection might sort him out, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Headingley has been confirmed as the venue for the 2012 World Club Challenge but there is a growing possibility of it being taken abroad in future, according to Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington.

England will stage the annual clash of the champions for the 12th successive year since it was revived in 2000 but only because there was not enough time to consider an alternative for 2012.

Super League champions Leeds say they were prepared to travel to Australia and, with NRL Grand Final winners Manly Sea Eagles also proposing a Middle Eastern venue, Hetherington admits the February 17 clash could be the last for some time on English soil.

Hetherington told a news conference at Headingley: “Whilst there has been talk about that for the last eight or nine years, it’s never really got far.

“But just recently there does seem to be an appetite, particularly from the Australian clubs, to start to explore that possibility.

“I think the fact that we were prepared to play the game in Australia probably took the Australians by surprise and it made the NRL think seriously about staging it. “It turned out to be too short a time scale for 2012 but I think for the future it’s very much on the agenda now.

“A lot of preparatory work could be done. Indeed, if it was to be in Dubai or the Emirates, work could start now for 2013.”

The Challenge, which will be sponsored in 2012 by Heinz Big Soup, is the shared property of the Rugby Football League and NRL but the Rhinos have managed to secure home advantage after playing their four previous fixtures at Elland Road.

Leeds have also been successful with their bid to play on their regular Friday night match-day.