Leeds adapt to life without coach as Sterling case runs course

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The Independent Online

Leeds insist that it has been business as usual this week, despite the absence of their coach, who is facing accusations of racial discrimination from one of their players at an industrial tribunal. While Dean Lance gave evidence denying that he had discriminated against the Rhinos' black winger, Paul Sterling, his assistant, Damien McGrath, said that preparations for Saturday's Super League play-off eliminator against Bradford had carried on as normal. "It hasn't been an issue at all," he said. "The first most players knew about it was when they realised Dean wasn't at training on Monday."

Leeds insist that it has been business as usual this week, despite the absence of their coach, who is facing accusations of racial discrimination from one of their players at an industrial tribunal. While Dean Lance gave evidence denying that he had discriminated against the Rhinos' black winger, Paul Sterling, his assistant, Damien McGrath, said that preparations for Saturday's Super League play-off eliminator against Bradford had carried on as normal. "It hasn't been an issue at all," he said. "The first most players knew about it was when they realised Dean wasn't at training on Monday."

McGrath said that Lance had been working at Headingley before and after his tribunal commitments, leaving his back-room staff to follow instructions in his absence. With judgment on the matter reserved, Leeds must now carry on as though nothing has happened. The most bizarre twist is that Sterling is in the squad, as he has been for the last four months, although an ankle injury could keep him out.

Their opponents, Bradford, have hit a major obstacle in their attempt to turn Odsal into a 25,000 all-seat stadium. The club has accused the potential developers, Sterling Capital, of "stalling" and will seek new partners for the venture.

France have called up three players from this year's Super League for the World Cup. Jerome Guisset of Warrington, Gaël Tallec of Halifax and Yacine Dekkiche, who was released by Huddersfield-Sheffield, are included in the squad led by the former Widnes scrum-half, Fabien Devecchi.

The French will face Tonga, Papua New Guinea and South Africa in a home-based group in the tournament, which is to be played under a compromise substitute rule finally thrashed out yesterday. Australia had led a move for the World Cup to be played under current international rules, which permit unlimited interchange, while the home nations wanted something closer to the domestic restriction of six changes. Under the compromise, 12 switches will be allowed, but that will include visits to the blood-bin.

Wakefield must wait at least another week to know whether their creditors will accept Trinity's rescue plan. A hearing yesterday was adjourned until next Wednesday, to give one of the club's major creditors, SGB RovaCabin, time to consider its response to a proposal to pay the company only part of the estimated £1m owed for erecting a hospitality stand at one end of Belle Vue.

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