Illness forces Gregory sabbatical

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The Independent Online

The Wigan coach, Mike Gregory, is to temporarily hand over the reins after the Challenge Cup final in order to have treatment in America for a chronic bacterial infection. Concern over the health of the former Great Britain coach has been growing for some time.

The Wigan coach, Mike Gregory, is to temporarily hand over the reins after the Challenge Cup final in order to have treatment in America for a chronic bacterial infection. Concern over the health of the former Great Britain coach has been growing for some time.

"Mike has been suffering from what has turned out to be a debilitating infection and tests have revealed it almost certainly started with an insect bite when he was on tour with the Great Britain Academy side in Australasia and South Africa,'' said the Wigan chairman, Maurice Lindsay. "It has been distressing for Mike, who has been battling away, but it has reached a state where he will require hospital treatment.

"Mike will remain in charge of the team until the Challenge Cup final on 15 May and will then travel to America for treatment. Mike is much valued by the club and has played a major part in getting us to the final. His health, however, is of prime importance." In his absence, Denis Betts will take over.

Gregory took over as Wigan's head coach midway through last season, guiding them to the Super League Grand Final where they lost to Bradford. His side have struggled through the early stages of this season, but have qualified for the final in Cardiff against St Helens.

The Widnes coach, Neil Kelly, is in talks to extend his stay at the Halton Stadium, which would end rumours of a move to Super League rivals Castleford. The Tigers have been without a coach since parting company with Graham Steadman last week.

Meanwhile, Castleford's caretaker coach Gary Mercer has admitted he has formally applied for the position on a permanent basis.

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