Experienced McRae lined up as Noble reign ends

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The Independent Online

Brian Noble's reign as Great Britain coach is over, following the Rugby Football League's decision to make a full-time appointment.

Noble has done the job for the last three seasons, combining it with club roles at Bradford and now at Wigan. Before that, he spent three years as assistant to David Waite, who combined coaching Great Britain with the role of the RFL's performance director.

Under Noble, the national side has won six of its 14 internationals. His contract and those of his assistants, Jon Sharp and David Lyon, expired at the end of 2006 and the RFL's executive chairman, Richard Lewis, confirmed that "they have not been renewed.

"He has played a major role in the successes experienced by the Lions. His personal passion for the job has always been an outstanding feature of his tenure."

With Noble now out of the picture, the obvious favourite for the job is Shaun McRae, who resigned from his job as director of coaching at South Sydney last week. McRae has worked as assistant coach to three national sides - Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain - and has made no secret of his availability.

He is, however, getting towards the veteran stage of his career. He is also, like Waite, an Australian and the succession was supposed to involve young British coaches.

The questions about them, however, are whether any of them are qualified for it or any of them want it. Paul Cullen, the Warrington and England coach, has already ruled himself out and his predecessor with England, the Salford coach, Karl Harrison, is under contract at his club, as is Sharp at Huddersfield.

All the portents point towards McRae, who at least has the sort of communication skills that have often been lacking.

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