Harbin on way back as coach

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The Independent Online

Oldham will today name John Harbin, the man credited with keeping Wakefield in Super League, as their new coach. Harbin was hailed as a hero when Trinity defied the odds to avoid relegation last year, but later said that the experience had taken too much of a toll on him and that he would not be continuing in coaching.

Instead, he became chief executive at Dewsbury, but has admitted to missing dealing directly with playing matters. "He has been pulling his hair out," said Oldham chairman, Chris Hamilton, who has asked caretaker coach, Mark Knight, to carry on as Harbin's assistant. "Mark has done very well as caretaker, but we felt that John's extra experience and the great job he did at Wakefield just gave him the edge."

Harbin, Yorkshire-born, but based in Queensland for most of his life, takes over from Mike Ford, who has accepted a six-month contract as defensive coach to the Irish rugby union squad.

Oldham are to move their Challenge Cup tie against the holders, St Helens, to Stalybridge Celtic. Their current home ground at Ashton United has a capacity of only 2,000, while neither Oldham Athletic or Rochdale wanted to stage the game on 10 February. The Rugby League has to inspect the stadium before it gives permission, but Stalybridge's capacity of 6,180 will be regarded as adequate.

London Broncos will have half a team making a debut for the club when they play the Canberra Raiders on Saturday. The match at Gosford is the culmination of the Broncos' month-long training camp in Australia and coach Tony Rea plans to have a look at all his new players.

They include winger Steve Hall, from St Helens, and three recruits from Wigan, Francis Stephenson, and the young reserves Rob Jackson and Neil Budworth. Richard Marshall, from Huddersfield, and Rob Purdham, from Whitehaven, will also make their bow, alongside Australian forwards Wayne Evans and Russell Bawden.

Widnes could be without Craig Weston for the start of the season after the utility player injured a leg in Monday night's friendly defeat at St Helens.

Brett Mullins has signed a one-year deal with Sydney after convincing them that he has recovered from the knee injury that saw him leave Leeds ahead of schedule last season.

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