Cullen and Steadman handed Origin Match honours

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The Independent Online

Paul Cullen has been given a double reward for the improvement he has presided over at Warrington this season. He has been named as coach of the Lancashire side to play Yorkshire in the Origin Match in July, and assistant to John Kear with the England A team to face Australia.

Cullen, who has steered the Wolves into a mid-table place in his first full season in charge, will face Castleford's Graham Steadman, who like him has been promoted from assistant with his county last year, in the Origin fixture at Headingley on 2 July. They take over from the Australian, Ian Millward, and Bradford's Brian Noble, who have both stepped down.

This year's assistants also have dual responsibilities among a list of over 30 appointments – all of which go to up-and-coming British coaches. Leeds' Daryl Powell, who will assist Steadman, has been put in charge of Ireland in the European Nations Cup, whilst the Wigan assistant coach, Mike Gregory, the No 2 to Cullen, will be responsible for Scotland.

The list of jobs also includes first representative appointments for three ambitious former Great Britain internationals – Denis Betts, Karl Harrison and Lee Crooks. Betts is assistant to Steve Crooks with the Super League Under-21 side that will play its National League equivalent in a two-match series and also has roles with youth representative sides, while Harrison is in charge of the National League One side that will meet the touring New Zealand A team.

Crooks will assist Huddersfield's Lee St Hilaire with the Yorkshire Junior Academy side. "We are delighted that these key representative positions can be filled by targetted and talented British coaches," the Great Britain coach, David Waite, said.

Jon Hepworth, who made his first-team debut for Leeds in London last Friday, has gone on a month's loan to Castleford. The half-back or hooker goes straight into the Tigers' squad to face Widnes this Saturday.

Hull's director of rugby, Shaun McRae, has hit out over delays in negotiations for a new television deal. The current Super League contract runs out at the end of the season and the Rugby Football League are in protracted talks with both Sky and the BBC, who have rights to the Challenge Cup.

McRae says uncertainty over the size of the new deal is preventing clubs from making plans for next season.

"With no apparent signs of a new television deal being struck, I think a lot of people like myself are getting a little concerned," McRae said."It is about time we spoke out about our concerns because the uncertainty doesn't help. A lot of our players signed contracts based on the fact that the TV money for 2004 was at least the same as it is now. If it is not, then we will need to renegotiate contracts."