ONE-TIME York Wasps target Chris St Clair is likely to be heavily involved tomorrow as his St Gaudens side make Challenge Cup history.

However, the chances of his ever pulling on the Wasps shirt - as has been mooted - once his side's Cup run is over seem to have taken a further blow, at least according to his coach.

While Wasps themselves take on French opposition in Villeneuve, St Gaudens will stage the first-ever Challenge Cup tie in France as they entertain Super League Halifax Blue Sox having knocked Keighley Cougars out in round three.

And St Clair, who scored a try against Keighley, has been hailed as one of their main men.

The loose-forward, as well as an unnamed French international also at St Gaudens, was linked to the Wasps at the start of the season as the club looked across the Channel for new talent.

But - as the Evening Press reported some weeks ago - once it emerged their present club would not release them until they were out of the Challenge Cup, Wasps coach Leo Epifania was forced to turn his attentions elsewhere.

It would now seem that their chances of signing for the Wasps have nose-dived further.

St Gaudens coach Gilles Dumas stated: "I have read reports in the press about my players coming to England but that is the only place I have heard it. As far as I am concerned they are staying with St Gaudens."

St Gaudens duo Arnaud Dulac and, another scorer against Keighley, Julien Gerin have been rumoured as possible Wasps targets due to the fact they are two of the French internationals at the club.

But Dumas, who doubles up as the French national coach, added: "Dulac is our captain and Gerin is also a very important player for us. I want them to stay here and I think that is what is happening."

Dulac too seems to have ruled himself out: "There was never any truth about me going to York. A move to England is not something I want to do at this stage of my career. I'm more than happy staying in France.

"I don't know where the stories came from but I can tell you I'm not going anywhere."

Epifania would not say which French-based players Wasps had actually had in mind but said that any possible move was not dead in the water.

"It's something we're not going to discuss until the Challenge Cup is over.

"It's up in the air. The way we're taking it is nobody is coming here from France but if they do it will be a bonus.

"We're looking more for local talent but if we get the bonus of French players we will take that on board."

STICKING with the French theme, here are a few phrases which might come in handy at Huntington Stadium tomorrow:

- Laisse-lui (Gerroff 'im!)

- Allez les Gupes (Go on, Wasps)

- Arbitre! tes-vous aveugle? (Are you blind ref?)

- Utilisez les ailes! (Use the wings!)

- Allez jusqu'au sifflement final (Keep going until the final whistle.)

- York! York! York!... (York! York! York!...)

RUGBY union convert Carl Stannard has been released from his trial forms at York Wasps, but is still keen to make it in the 13-a-side code.

Stannard, who made the switch from Pocklington RU, has still been training at Huntington Stadium and could well gain more league experience with one of York's amateur clubs.

First-teamer Scott Yeaman's trial forms now run until the end of February, while the club are looking at the option of signing Callum Irving, another trialist, for the Academy.

WASPS winger Neil Bennett is to be allowed to play for amateurs Redhill in the National Conference League.

The 26-year-old, who signed in December, has not yet played for the club after being unable to attend training sessions.

The club, however, will retain his professional registration and hope the former Doncaster flyer, who had been linked with a return to the Dragons before he signed for Wasps, will be able to return to boost the squad in the future.

"We're disappointed but maybe it's best for us," said coach Leo Epifania.

"He's obviously not a bad winger but we don't want a bloke who does not want to commit himself to it."

Fender the first of York's Lions

RESPECTED rugby league commentator Tim Heley has written to the Evening Press Sports Desk regarding an article in the paper about York RL legend Basil Watts.

The article featured in the Evening Press' 'Jubilee Jewels' series, which sees a page each Saturday dedicated to each year of the Queen's 50-year reign, and stated that, in 1954, Watts became the third York player to play for Great Britain, after Harry Field and Les White.

However, Mr Heley, a wealth of rugby league knowledge, asserted that York's brilliant second-rower of the 1930s, Norman Fender, was capped before any of them, going on the GB tour to Australia in 1932.

To stop any argument, RFL stats man Ray Fletcher said both the Evening Press and Mr Heley were correct in their own right.

Fender did tour with Great Britain that year and indeed scored 11 tries in 14 appearances Down Under.

However, he only featured in tour matches and never appeared in an actual Test match for Great Britain before, during or after that tour. Harry Field, in 1936, became the first York player to win a GB Test cap.

For the record, Fender was capped six times by Wales at rugby union prior to his switch to York RL in 1931-32, and went on to play nine times for Wales RL.

By the way, watch out for future 'Jubilee Jewels' in the Evening Press.

Last week's edition carried an article on Edgar Dawson, who won a Test cap in 1956 and future editions may well feature some other of York RL's stars of the past, including Jeff Stevenson, Mick Sullivan and Geoff Smith, who were the last three York players to join the Great Britain (Test) register.

There can be no disagreement with Mr Heley's claim that these articles bring back some great memories, especially for York fans.

"The picture (of Basil Watts) triggered exciting memories of other York loose-forwards from the past, Sep Aspinall, Billy Welsh, Edgar Dawson to name only three," he wrote.

Who's to argue with that?

Wasps get benefit from big Hill climb

BIG Steve Hill climbed a few places in the Guildford Construc-tion/Evening Press player- of-the-season standings following his tireless effort last week.

The 25-year-old prop bulldozed through the Leigh defence several times and tackled fearlessly in defence and was, therefore, awarded his first man-of-the-match award of the campaign.

Mark Cain, however, has strengthened his grip of the leadership, after another impressive showing in his new role at loose-forward. He again made a number of telling breaks to suggest that his switch from half-back will prove an on-going success, and picked up two player-of-the-season points.

Centre Shaun Austerfield just pipped Mick Docherty for the final point after he helped set up a number of chances as Wasps tried to fight back against the unbeaten Lancastrians. Austerfield, Wasps' leading try-scorer this term, thus gets onto the leaderboard.

The Wasps' man of the match in each game receives three points, the second best player two points and the third best one point. Whoever tops the table at the end of the season will receive £350 courtesy of Guildford Construction, with the runner-up winning £150.

Player of the Year standings: Mark Cain 10, Jon Liddell 6pts, Mick Docherty 6, Steve Hill 4, Peter Edwards 4, Carl Hall 4, Jamie Benn 4, Michael Forbes 3, Ben Sorbello 3, Scott Yeaman 2, Andy Precious 1, Shaun Austerfield 1.

YORK Wasps Supporters' Club are urging fans to attend their annual general meeting next week.

A few places on their committee have arisen and they are looking for new members to join up. They are also seeking fans to get involved in their fund-raising activities.

All interested should contact Ken Pearson on 01904 769861 and attend the AGM, which is open to non-members as well as members.

It will be held on Tuesday, February 12, at 7.30pm, at Huntington Stadium.

Updated: 14:15 Saturday, February 09, 2002