Dragons favour Australian candidates for new coach

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The Independent Online

The new Super League franchise, the Catalan Dragons, are to hold the final interviews for their vacant coaching position today.

The club's chief executive, Grant Mayer, and director of rugby, David Waite, will talk to five candidates - one of them an Englishman - over a phone link.

"It points to it being an Australian at this stage," Mayer said. "We will make a recommendation to the board, which they will decide whether to accept next Tuesday, although it will probably be a bit too late for him to get over here in time for our first game the following Saturday.

"All the Australian candidates have been involved in grand finals as coaches or players, so there is plenty of experience there.''

The club have considered but rejected the idea of making a stopgap appointment to keep the seat warm for a high-profile Australian - like Graeme Murray or Brian Smith - who could be available for the 2007 season.

The club have been without a head coach since the departure of Steve Deakin in December and are now nine days away from their opening fixture, at home to Wigan, for which a crowd of between 8,000 and 10,000 is predicted.

The squad are currently in the north of England on an acclimatisation trip, with the exception of the Australian second-rower Ian Hindmarsh, whose wife is due to give birth.

The Wests Tigers' second row Chris Heighington hopes to use tomorrow's World Club Challenge match against Bradford to impress the Bulls and Great Britain coach, Brian Noble.

Heighington's father was born in Liverpool and he has declared that he wants to play for Great Britain rather than Australia.

"If the opportunity ever came up, I'd take it with both hands," said Heighington, who was in the Tigers' grand final winning team last season.

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