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Rugby League ace Martin Gleeson ready to switch to Rugby Union

Martin Gleeson in action for Wigan WarriorsGreat Britain Rugby League centre Martin Gleeson is ready to switch codes and follow the Union trail blazed by Jason Robinson 12 years ago.

After 28 Tests and almost 300 matches for a clutch of famous Rugby League clubs, Gleeson plans to launch a new career in the English Premiership as soon as he completes an 18-month drugs suspension for taking a banned substance.

The Wiganer will be cleared to start training with any club from August 12 and free to play again on November 12.

Gleeson has spent most of his enforced absence studying the 15-man code and discussing his future plans with another Wiganer, Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards. Gleeson, 32 a few weeks ago, is adamant that any club signing him will get “a bargain in perfect condition.”

He says: “I’ve had a few opportunities to go to Union over the years but now is the perfect time to make the move. I have a real hunger to make it a success.’

“I think I’ve got four good years left. I’ve been working with my own training team since February and I’m in the best shape of my life.

“I’ve smashed all my pb’s in the gym and because I haven’t played for so long, I haven’t been taking any knocks. That will have the effect of prolonging my career. In all my time in League, I’ve never had a serious injury. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve never had anything worse than a broken thumb.”

After 125 tries in League, the former Huddersfield, St Helens, Warrington, Wigan and Hull centre-cum-stand-off has taken steps towards securing his Union move.

“There are a lot of clubs interested in me but nothing can be done before November,” he says. “My decision to switch to Union has not been taken lightly.

“The idea has been growing on me for a while. I’ve been watching a lot of Rugby Union. The more I watch it and study it, the more I like it. I know it will bring out the best in me. I wouldn’t be doing it otherwise.”

Gleeson has not played since Hull’s local derby against Hull KR on June 9 lastyear, his last match before the ban took effect.

The player admitted taking a banned substance but has always sworn that he did so only after being assured by his Hull employers that he was doing nothing wrong.

Two ex-Hull officials, chief executive James Rule and fitness conditioner Ben Cooper, were each given two-year bans for their part in what the RFL investigators described as a “cover-up”.

Gleeson, adamant that he had been the victim of a “web of lies”, is considering a civil action.

“I took the substance in good faith because I had been assured it was legal,” he said.

“I was really upset by what happened. I was very low for a long time and then I realised I had to play the cards I’d been dealt.

“I’ve pulled myself through and one of the big motivations in that respect was the challenge of playing Union.

“I’ve been waiting for a long time but the wait will soon be over. I just hope someone gives me a chance.   I won’t let them down.”

PETER JACKSON

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