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Featherstone prop Lockwood handed two-year doping ban

Featherstone prop James Lockwood has been given a two-year ban for breaching the Rugby Football League's anti-doping regulations in the first finding of its kind in the UK.

The 29-year-old former Dewsbury forward was handed the suspension by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) after a sample taken in an out-of-competition test last November returned a positive test for growth hormone releasing factors.

In a statement, UKAD said: "The Drug Control Centre at King's College, London, identified the presence of Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2 (pralmorelin) and its metabolite in Mr Lockwood's A sample.

"These are classified under section S2 of the WADA 2014 Prohibited List. This is the first finding of its kind in the UK.

"The athlete is banned from all competition from 3 March 2015 to 2 March 2017."

Lockwood has spent the last three seasons with Featherstone after joining them from Dewsbury in 2012 and was in their team that lost 36-12 to Leigh in last October's Championship Grand Final at Headingley.


Maitua 'massive signing' for Featherstone

Featherstone have signed Samoa forward Reni Maitua on a two-year deal from the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Reni Maitua Credit: Press Association

The 32-year-old has 174 NRL appearances to his name and his signature is a real statement of intent from Rovers ahead of a season which sees promotion to the Super League back on the agenda.

This is a massive signing for Featherstone Rovers, his playing record speaks for itself and he brings a wealth of experience to our dressing room.

– Andy Hay, Head Coach

Three-cap international Maitua started out with Canterbury and then had spells with Cronulla and Parramatta before going back to the Bulldogs.

He made 13 appearances for them in 2014.

Featherstone Rovers receive winding up petition

Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Club has confirmed they've received a winding up petition from the taxman, but they say they're confident they'll pay off the arrears later this week.

In a statement issued today Rovers said they'd originally agreed to pay what they owed HMRC in four instalments. Two of those have already been paid, and they say the outstanding balance of £11,000 will be cleared this week.

The club say they're "disappointed" that HMRC have gone public with the winding up petition, when a plan to clear the tax arrears had already been agreed, and earlier payments had been made as promised.

Castleford sign free agent Finn

Ireland captain Liam Finn will be back in Super League in 2014 after being snapped up by Castleford Tigers.

The 30-year-old goalkicking half-back, who had brief spells in the top flight with Halifax and Wakefield, has linked up with the Tigers following his release by neighbouring Championship club Featherstone.

Finn, who led the Irish in all three World Cup games against Fiji, England and Australia, scored 1,484 points in two spells at Featherstone, where he played under Castleford coach Daryl Powell.

I'm flattered and extremely grateful that a great traditional club like Castleford has given me the opportunity to play in Super League again.

"I didn't take my chance last time and it has been a long road back. I hope to pay that back to the club and the coaching staff with hard work and by proving to them - and to myself - that I am more than capable of being a quality Super League player for them and make the most of a second chance playing at the highest level."

– Liam Finn, new Castleford Tigers signing

Liam Finn has been a stand-out performer in the Championship for the last four seasons.

"He is an outstanding player in both half-back and hooker positions and will further enhance the quality of our competition in those positions.

"I am supremely confident he will do well in Super League as a result of his professional attitude and skill sets and I'm looking forward to working with him again here at Castleford Tigers."

– Daryl Powell, Castleford Tigers coach

Kear to face old club in Championship Grand Final

John Kear will go up against his former club Sheffield Eagles in the Kingstone Press Championship Grand Final at Leigh Sports Village next Sunday after his Batley side toppled favourites Featherstone 21-20 in extra time in a dramatic semi-final.

Rovers were on course for a fourth successive final when they led 18-0 after half-an-hour, but Batley, who needed extra time to beat Leigh in the semi-finals a week earlier, stormed back to force added time .

And replacement hooker George Flanagan kicked a golden-point drop goal to condemn their hosts to a first defeat under football manager Sean Long.

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