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Rugby Union: Mapp steps up as Celtic's new skipper; Crusaders decide to fill gap left by injured van Dijk for rest of season.

CELTIC Crusaders' coach John Dixon has named Darren Mapp as captain for the remainder of the regular season.

Mapp takes over from Jace van Dijk, who faces three months out after a clash with Batley Bulldogs' Danny Maun.

The late, high challenge broke van Dijk's jaw in two places and Dixon said that it is unlikely that he will return this season.

"We're facing up to the fact that we may lose Jace for the rest of the season and we're making changes to the side accordingly," he said.

Mapp's first game as skipper will be tomorrow when the Crusaders travel to Leigh Centurions in a Co-operative National League One clash (3pm).

The Crusaders will be looking for their third win in a row as the prepare for their Northern Rail Cup semi-final against Salford City Reds at the Brewery Field next Saturday.

Welsh international Mark Lennon will take van Dijk's No 7 shirt for the trip to Lancashire, Josh Hannay returns from injury, while Anthony Blackwood and Ben Flower have also been added to the 19-man squad.

Apart from van Dijk, Terry Martin is the only other Crusaders player on the injury list with a broken leg.

Crusaders, fourth in the league, go into the match after scoring 50 points in a game for two weeks in a row.

Dixon says that tomorrow's fixture will be a trip into the unknown.

"We beat them twice last year in the Northern Rail Cup, but they've got a new coach and a stack of new players," he said.

"Dennis Moran brings a whole bag of tricks and we'll have no idea about what to expect from them footy-wise.

"I'm familiar with some of their players, but not with how their team will play."

A win for the Welshmen could open a gap between the top four in Co-operative National League One and the rest of the division, but Dixon insisted: "It's too early to start talking about things like that.

"A few weeks ago Halifax and Salford were going to pull away from everyone and Widnes were going to be doing that too.

It's too early to talk about the final league table."

Crusaders: Tony Duggan, Paul Ballard, Josh Hannay, Mark Dalle Cort, Luke Dyer, Damien Quinn, Mark Lennon, Jordan James, Neil Budworth, Gareth Dean, Chris Beasley, Darren Mapp, Neale Wyatt, Aaron Summers, Ian Webster, Jamie I'Anson, David Tangata-Toa, Anthony Blackwood, Ben Flower.

CAPTION(S):

CAPTAIN'S CALL: Darren Mapp, pictured scoring against Widnes, is the new Crusaders skipper
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 7, 2008
Words:417
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