By Peter Jessup

The Auckland Warriors have signed former Queensland Crushers and Gold Coast centre David Miles, who has spent the past year languishing in the reserves at the Cronulla Sharks this season, unable to push past Paul Mellor, Russell Richardson and Andrew Ettingshausen.

Miles, aged 23, joins the club this week on a two-year, incentive-based deal after rejecting an offer from the Sharks.

Other new signings Ivan Cleary and Mark Tookey are still a week off joining their new team after being given special leave to start behind the rest of the squad, given their involvement in finals playoffs.


Tookey, who is available for the Kiwis because of his parentage, is still apparently leaning towards Queensland State of Origin play and therefore Kangaroo selection.

Warriors captain John Simon is still in Australia with the Aboriginal team.

The club yesterday dismissed suggestions it was about to dump former skipper Matthew Ridge, who has a year to go on his contract.

It was unlikely they would find a club in rugby or league willing to meet his salary, they were not prepared to let him go and still pay the lion's share and did not expect the fullback to walk out, said chief executive officer Trevor McKewen Meanwhile a new national competition to kick off in the new millennium will sort out the confusion that has beset the provincial game over several years and looks to beef up the standard of play.

The New Zealand Rugby League yesterday named 11 sides who will be sold franchises.

Eight are wrapped around Auckland clubs: triple Fox winners Glenora, Eastern Manukau, a conglomerate of South Auckland and Howick-Pakuranga, Hibiscus Coast, Manurewa, Marist-Richmond, Mt Albert, Northcote-Birkenhead and Otahuhu.

Canterbury will represent the whole of the South Island, and the other regional teams are Wainuiomata and Porirua. A 12th team - not identified but believed to be Bay of Plenty - will be added once the NZRL is assured of financial and other criteria being met.

Three applicants missed out.

The competition, to open in March next year, will be played home-and-away with a top-five finals series. Sky will broadcast at least 15 games live and others delayed.

With inbuilt supporters from the clubs rather than the nebulous fog that was Auckland North and South there should be crowds, sponsors and a competition that will hold players and coaches who would otherwise have to shift to outback Australia or England to make a buck in the game.

And undoubtedly there will be local players thrown up for the Auckland Warriors.

It was unclear yesterday what if any side the Warriors would project their prospects at.