Noble's mission at Wigan begins with request for time

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The Independent Online

Wigan are four points adrift at the foot of the Super League table and Noble has warned that their situation might get even worse before he can turn the club around.

"There's a chance we may go backwards before we go forwards, because introducing new coaching principles takes time," said the former Bradford coach.

Noble's new employer, the Wigan owner Dave Whelan, says he will get that time.

"He's got to pick this team up and produce the goods," he said. "But it takes time to build a team like Bradford and he will get time.

"If in four years' time we haven't put some silverware into the JJB [Stadium], then perhaps it's time for me to go, and I will go."

In the shorter term Noble, who will continue in his part-time role as the coach of Great Britain, said that he would like to strengthen his new side and that he would love to see some familiar faces walk through the door as soon as possible.

Bradford, the club that Noble left this week after almost three decades as player and coach, say that that will not happen.

The Bulls chairman, Peter Hood, said: "No Bradford players are going to Wigan. No Bradford players are going anywhere."

Optimistic Wigan rumours have suggested that everyone from Joe Vagana and Jamie Langley to Paul Deacon, Terry Newton and even Stuart Fielden could be set to follow Noble to Lancashire.

At the Galpharm Stadium today, however, Wigan's new leader will have to be content with the return of his two most experienced forwards, Jerry Seuseu and Bryan Fletcher.

Noble's successor at Odsal, Steve McNamara, will be preparing the Bulls for his first game in charge, at Warrington tomorrow.

McNamara has long been marked as the heir apparent to Noble, but he has been rushed into the head coaching role by the dramatic events of recent weeks on both sides of the Pennines, including his own refusal of the head coach job at Hull.

"It has happened quickly and slightly differently from what we envisaged, but it has happened," said McNamara as he outlined his ambition to take the reigning world champions to further success.

"The standard has been set and we don't just want to match that. We want to go to the next level."

He has both his Harrises - Iestyn and Ben - back from injury for the trip to Warrington, who beat the Bulls two weeks ago.

Noble will be able to take a few days off from trying to steer Wigan to safety this summer when Great Britain play a mid-season international to help them prepare for the autumn's Tri-Nations Down Under.

The Lions will face New Zealand at Knowsley Road on 27 June in a match that has been given full Test status.

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