McNamara rejects move home to stay with Bulls

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The Independent Online

Steve McNamara has turned down the coaching position at his home-town club, Hull, to stay on as assistant to Brian Noble at Bradford.

The former player with both clubs was Hull's first choice to replace John Kear, who left this week after being told that his contract was not being renewed after the end of this season. But McNamara has rejected the chance to become the youngest head coach in Super League at 34, in order to remain at the Bulls with the promise that he will be Noble's successor.

"We are delighted that Steve will be staying at Bradford," said the Bulls' chief executive, Gareth Davies, who confirmed that McNamara will be the club's next coach whenever Noble, who is also the Great Britain coach, relinquishes the role.

Hull, despite making it clear that McNamara was their preferred candidate, have been talking to another contender.

"We plan to make an announcement within the next few days and we are sure that all Hull fans will be pleased with the decision," said the club's chief executive, David Plummer, who has already ruled out Salford's Karl Harrison and the former Australian Test coach Chris Anderson.

McNamara's decision is a boost for Bradford before tonight's game against Warrington at Odsal. Matt Cook is likely to be the only absentee from the side that beat Hull in the Challenge Cup last weekend to precipitate Kear's departure. He picked up a knock to his shoulder and is set to be replaced by another of the Bulls' young forwards, Brett Ferres. Stuart Reardon is set to make his long-delayed Super League debut for Warrington against the club that let him go this winter.

The Great Britain winger has been hampered by a knee injury since joining the Wolves, but played against the London Skolars last weekend. "I'm regaining my fitness all the time, but being sharp for a match is something completely different," he said.

In today's other match, Castleford will be without last season's leading try-scorer, Waine Pryce, for the trip to play the Catalans Dragons in Narbonne.

The National Leagues start tomorrow, with last season's relegated clubs, Widnes and Leigh, launching their attempts to win back Super League places. Widnes's Kenyan winger, Lucas Onyango, will miss the visit of York, but John Kirkpatrick, previously with St Helens and London, is available.

Leigh have the harder task, away at Halifax, who finished last season strongly and harbour their own dreams of a return to the top flight.