Director Simms steps in as coaching crisis deepens at Salford

To lose one coach in uncertain circumstances could be put down to bad luck. To lose two looks suspiciously like carelessness.

Salford go into today's game against Bradford with Shaun McRae still on sick leave after six weeks' absence. They will also be without his assistant, Malcolm Alker, who was sent home from training last week by director of rugby Steve Simms, who said it was being dealt with "in-house".

Alker, a long-serving Salford captain who joined the coaching staff when he retired as a player at the end of last season, has put the matter in the hands of the players' union, but as yet there is no meeting arranged. It means that for the visit of the Bulls, Salford will be under the guidance of Simms and his junior coaches, Allan Hunte and Phil Veivers.

Bradford, who have given their former Salford full-back, Michael Platt, a new two-year contract, have Kyle Briggs, Olivier Elima and Gareth Raynor back.

The Bulls have offered an Odsal groundshare to their football neighbours, Bradford City, if they opt to leave Valley Parade for financial reasons. Ironically, City hosted the Bulls for a season while Odsal was being upgraded.

Martin Gleeson did not sign for Hull early enough to play at the Catalan Dragons today, but he is already pencilled into the team for the Humberside derby on Good Friday. The former Test centre agreed an 18-month deal with Hull two weeks after being released by Wigan.

His new coach, Richard Agar, is likely to field teenage winger Reece Lyne today in place of the dropped Will Sharp. The in-form Catalans have their gifted stand-off, Thomas Bosc, fit to play for the first time since rupturing his knee eight months ago.

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