Bulls buoyed by Noble's appointment

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The Independent Online

Bradford's players can only benefit in their Grand Final qualifier against Wigan today from knowing that the team's future is in good hands.

Bradford's players can only benefit in their Grand Final qualifier against Wigan today from knowing that the team's future is in good hands.

Uncertainty over the successor to Matthew Elliott could have taken the edge off the Bulls at the JJB Stadium, which was one good reason for appointing Brian Noble in midweek.

Another who is pleased is Elliott himself. He did not believe it was part of his role to endorse an heir, but he went as far in that direction as he thought proper.

"I don't think the board needed to be told of my opinion of Nobby," Elliott said. "The cards have fallen right and I'm delighted for the club because it's the right appointment."

The other decisions to be made are the more routine ones of who should play as the Bulls try to overcome Wigan for the first time this season.

Elliott is likely to stick with the same 17 who beat Leeds, which would mean no place for Nathan McAvoy or Justin Brooker, whose role against Leeds was limited to donning the Bullman costume at half-time and beating Ronnie the Rhino in a mascots' hoof race.

Wigan's Frank Endacott is also likely to run with an unchanged 17, but has been unusually cagey about who will play where. That might presage a tactical switch, such as playing Tony Smith at stand-off and returning Andy Farrell to his favoured, but almost forgotten, role at loose forward.

Even more important is adjusting the mood, which went so badly astray against St Helens last week. Wigan have drawn with Bradford as well as beating them by a late, single point at the JJB this season and by a 30-18 margin at Odsal. That makes them the form-book favourites, but little should be read into that.

In the crowd will be the Canberra coach, Mal Meninga, no doubt planning to meet Elliott, who will work alongside him next season, for the first time.

St Helens, who await the winners of this match in next Saturday's Grand Final, face the re-opening of two legal battles. The claim by their former stand-off, Darrell Trindall, for breach of contract has its first hearing next Tuesday and their sacked coach, Ellery Hanley, is re-opening proceedings after claiming not to have received an agreed settlement.

Saints' coach, Ian Millward, is threatening not to let Keiron Cunningham and Anthony Sullivan travel to South Africa with Wales the day after the Grand Final if they are carrying any knocks from the match.

Millward has resigned as the Wales assistant coach - and been replaced by Dewsbury's Neil Kelly - after being refused permission to delay his own departure to the pre-World Cup training camp.

Saints have already asked for permission for Sean Long and Paul Sculthorpe to travel late to England's base in Florida, because of a celebration day at Knowsley Road next Sunday.