Ford is staying put at Oldham

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The Independent Online

Mike Ford has ruled himself out of the running to be Warrington's new coach when the appointment is announced next week.

Ford, who will lead Oldham in their Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final against Widnes on Saturday, had been regarded as one of the front-runners to succeed Darryl Van de Velde, who is to return to Australia after the game at Wakefield the following day.

"It's not me," Ford said yesterday. "I said when I signed a new contract at Oldham that it was a three-year job and I'd like to think we're on track.

"Whoever wins on Saturday should go up into Super League. Obviously, there's a lot we'd have to do, but everyone needs something to strive for. We would need to strengthen, but you could say that Salford, Huddersfield and Wakefield need to strengthen too."

The Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton also denied the speculation concerning the coach who has steered them to the verge of the big time.

"I can categorically state that Mike Ford will not be going to Warrington as coach," he said. "Mike is happy here. That is why he signed a three-and-half-year contract earlier this season. Mike and ourselves are flattered that he has been linked with other positions, but Mike has a job here and he wants to see it through."

That leaves Ford's opponent on Saturday, Widnes' Neil Kelly, as the favourite to land the job at the Wolves, although he too is under contract but the timing of Warrington's announcement, the morning after Kelly coaches Wales against England at Wrexham, points to him being the man.

Steve Ganson has been appointed as referee for the Grand Final.

St Helens have given John Stankevitch a three-year contract after a string of impressive games in the pack for the injury-hit Super League champions. Eric Hughes, St Helens' football manager, said: "John is an outstanding young prospect, who has been a key member of the squad this season."

Castleford, another side badly disrupted by injuries this season, are giving trials to two centres from the NFP. Chris Haywood, from Hunslet, and Craig Moore, who has been playing at York, are to be given a chance in the Alliance team.

Cas, hard-hit in the backs, have had another set-back, with Darren Rogers' return after a hand injury being postponed because of a muscle tear in training. Danny Orr and Jon Wells are also both doubtful for Saturday's game at the London Broncos with dead-legs.

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