Post by Greg Joos » Tue, 30 Jan 1996 04:00:00

   By Digby Beacham of AAP

           PERTH, Jan 26 AAP - The Western Reds will distance themselves
from any messy appeal hearing that could take place between English
rugby league centre Barrie-Jon Mather and his United Kingdom club

Mather today failed in his High Court bid to gain a release from
Wigan so he could join the Reds.

 Lawyers for the 22-year-old said afterwards they would consider
appealing the decision and try and free Mather from Wigan, to which
he is contracted until 1997.

But Reds chief executive Brad Mellen said the Perth-based team
would not become involved in the dispute.

"It is fair to say we are disappointed, that's for sure," Mellen
said.  "BJ (Mather) did make an impact last year and he's a great
player and he would be an asset to our team.

"But we have distanced ourselves from all the legal
complications and we are not going to get involved in it now.
"It's up to him if he wants to appeal and if he's successful
we'd love to have him back, but we won't be entering into it."

Mather, who was placed on the transfer list at $308,600 in
November after a bitter contract dispute, walked out on Wigan,
claiming it had failed to adhere to terms of his contract -
something the club denied.

It was reported in December that Mather, who played 10 games for
the Reds last year, flew to Perth and signed a three year deal with
the WA team, but Super League authorities stepped in to block the
move until the legal matter had been resolved.

At today's two-hour hearing, Judge Sir Peter Webster refused to
grant Mather, a member of England's World Cup squad in October, a
temporary court order requiring Wigan to apply for his release
pending a full hearing of the dispute.

Mellen said the Reds had recruited well over the off-season and
hoped the expected permanent absence of Mather, who was signed by
Wigan in 1991 as a rugby union schoolboy, would not have an impact
on the Reds' on-field performances.

"We have been pretty active since the end of last season and
have some very handy recruits that we are expecting big things
from," Mellen said.

"The result of the court case is disappointing, but that's the
way the cookie crumbles."

Mellen said it was unlikely the Reds would use the spare money
from Mather's three year contract to acquire a new player.

"All the decent number threes are pretty much secured at this
time of the year," Mellen said.

"If anything presents itself in the number three or number four
position, we'll certainly have a look, but at this stage we'll be
going with our recruits."
           AAP dig/ad/rhv


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+++ views and do not reflect the official views of Super League +++