Ford mulls over offer to help coach Ireland

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The Independent Online

Mike Ford, the Oldham coach the former Great Britain scrum-half, looks set to switch to rugby union with Ireland. Ford, one of the rising English coaches in the game, confirmed after Oldham's defeat at Leigh yesterday that he is considering an offer to link up with the new Irish coach Eddie O'Sullivan.

He is thought to have been asked to join the Ireland squad for the Six Nations' Championship as defensive coach and said a decision could be made in the next 24 hours. "I love rugby league and I love Oldham but at the same time I've got to think what is best for me." he said.

Neil Turley claimed a hat-trick of tries as Leigh ran in 38 unanswered second-half points to hammer Oldham 46-12 at a freezing Hilton Park and strengthen their lead in the Northern Ford Premiership. The Centurions' 100 per cent record looked in danger when they trailed 12-8 at the break, but Oldham wilted alarmingly in the second half.

Rochdale Hornets also maintained their perfect record with a 24-20 win over Hull Kingston Rovers at Spotland.

The Hornets enjoyed most of the early pressure, but were reeling as Rovers ran in two early tries from Alex Smith and Jon Aston. The visitors held an eight-point lead at half-time, but Hornets took control in the second half. with Sean Cooper compiling a hat-trick.

Batley's Paul Gleadhill also scored a hat-trick as the Bulldogs collected their second win of the season with a 28-14 success at Chorley.

A survey carried out by the Rugby Football League shows that the Premiership is proving to be a re-launch pad for the careers of players discarded by Super League clubs. A host of players found themselves surplus to requirements when the majority of Super League clubs scrapped their Under-21 teams, but the survey reveals that 64 of the players released at the end of the 2001 season have joined NFP clubs.

Among the more experienced Super League regulars now plying their trade in the NFP are Ian Tonks (Featherstone), Marvin Golden and Martin Moana (Doncaster), Paul Davidson (Rochdale) and Jon Roper and Vila Matautia (Leigh).

* The St Helens forward Peter Shiels will miss the start of the club's Challenge Cup defence in February after undergoing a knee operation in his native Australia. He is likely to be out until March.