Bell aims for Kiwi Warriors clash

Warriors legend Dean Bell
Warriors legend Dean Bell

DEAN Bell landed in England on Tuesday with plans to try to arrange a match between Wigan and the New Zealand Warriors high on his agenda.

The former Cherry and Whites captain flew into London on a three-week mission to build closer links with Super League clubs, players and agents.

And early in his trip he is due to meet Warriors bosses to discuss the possibility of a match between his former club and current employers.

Bell is head of recruitment for NZ Warriors, where Thomas Leuluai will head to at the end of this season.

And he admitted he is keen to discuss a friendly fixture against heavyweight Super League opposition.

Warrington faced Michael Maguire’s Souths in a trial game earlier this year in Sydney, a match regarded by all parties as a success.

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan, one of the leading advocates of an expanded World Club Challenge, may be receptive to the idea of a similar encounter.

Shaun Wane took his players to Florida for their last pre-season training camp and there is a suggestion a possible fixture against Brian McClennan’s outfit could take place on neutral USA territory – evoking memories of Wigan’s infamous ‘friendly’ against Warrington in Milwaukee in 1989.

But staging the game in either Wigan or New Zealand would appear to be more profitable.

Bell, a close friend of Wane, will take in several matches before returning home in June – including the Warriors’ duel against St Helens in the headlining game of Sunday’s Magic event in Manchester.

Before leaving Auckland, he outlined details of his trip, insisting he was not scouring for players for 2013.

“It’s an opportunity to build good relationships with the leading player agents over there so that when the top UK players do come on the market, that we are better positioned,” Bell told a New Zealand newspaper.

Bell played for Wigan between 1986 and 1993 and returned to oversee the youth system in 2000, before joining the NZ Warriors’ staff. He is fondly remembered by fans for his no-nonsense approach.

PROP Epalahame Lauaki is set to return from injury in Sunday’s clash against Saints.

He missed last Friday’s trip to Huddersfield after being knocked out in the Challenge Cup the previous week.

Lauaki is expected to replace either Dom Crosby or Gil Dudson in the only change to Wane’s side.

Richard Silverwood will be referee.

Meanwhile, Joe Mellor’s ankle injury – suffered while playing on loan for Widnes last weekend – was not as bad as first feared. Vikings coach Denis Betts said the stand-off could feature against Warrington this Saturday.