Anderson prepares to leave Kiwis for St Helens

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The Independent Online

The New Zealand Test coach Daniel Anderson is expected to be unveiled as Ian Millward's successor at St Helens early this week.

The New Zealand Test coach Daniel Anderson is expected to be unveiled as Ian Millward's successor at St Helens early this week.

The 37-year-old has emerged as the front-runner to succeed his fellow Australian, who was sacked last week for gross misconduct with two and a half years left on his contract.

A crushing 44-6 Super League defeat at Hull on Friday has increased the pressure on the St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus to get a new man in place quickly, and Anderson is thought to be his first choice.

Chris Anderson, the former Australia coach who is now looking for work after leaving the rugby union side Newport Gwent Dragons, was officially ruled out of the running yesterday.

"Chris Anderson has not applied and I've not spoken to him," McManus said. "He is not a candidate."

Daniel Anderson, who succeeded Gary Freeman as Kiwi coach in March 2003, is in the last year of his contract with the New Zealand Rugby League and is due to step down after the Gillette Tri-Nations Series in November.

But the League chairman, Selwyn Pearson, has said that Anderson would be released from his contract if offered the St Helens job and the jockeying for position for the Test role has already begun.

Brian McClennan, one of Anderson's assistants at present, is favourite to take over, with the former Hull centre James Leuluai also in the running, along with the former Castleford and Warrington loose forward Tawera Nikau.

Nikau, who lost a leg in a motorcycle accident two years ago, is thought to have enrolled Chris Anderson and the former Salford and Chorley coach Kevin Tamati in a potential support team and said that he has obtained a pledge from the scrum-half Stacey Jones to come out of retirement.

"I definitely want the job and I think I have the right credentials," Nikau said. "The Kiwis have struggled over the last few years under Daniel Anderson and I think he should've gone by now."

Anderson has been out of club coaching since he parted company with the New Zealand Warriors a year ago.

He was the National Rugby League coach of the year in 2002 after guiding the Warriors to the minor premiership and the Grand Final, only to go down to the Sydney Roosters.

A former teacher, Anderson began his NRL career as development officer at Parramatta, where he was a reserve grade coach and assistant to Brian Smith until landing the Warriors job in 2001.

Millward is expected to pursue legal action but has denied that he already has a new job lined up. "I've had no approaches from anyone," he said. "I always hoped I would be allowed to continue at St Helens but obviously I'm now an out-of-work coach. I've got nothing else in place but I have a family to support."