Reilly beefs up Leeds' coaching

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The Independent Online

Leeds have appointed the most experienced and, in many ways, most successful English coach in the game to help take the pressure off Darryl Powell.

Malcolm Reilly, a former Leeds coach as well as the longest serving incumbent with Great Britain, has been recruited to fill the vacancy left by the departure of the Rhinos' technical director, Steve Anderson, for Warrington, although it has not yet been decided what title Reilly will assume.

Reilly, who has also coached Castleford and Halifax as well as winning an Australian Grand Final with the Newcastle Knights, has been out of a job at club level since being squeezed out of Huddersfield by the merger with Sheffield Eagles.

He was then in charge of the Great Britain Academy side, but resigned from that post when David Waite was appointed to oversee all international rugby.

Reilly's main responsibility at Headingley will be the development of young players, but he will also assist Powell, a player he frequently selected for Great Britain, with first-team affairs.

That is something which Powell, still inexperienced as a coach, needs if Leeds are not to slip out of the play-off picture.

"Malcolm has so much to offer," Powell said. "His experience and knowledge will be invaluable. I can't think of a better coach and role model."

Against Castleford today Leeds have Anthony Farrell back in the second row after suspension and Gary Mercer is in line to make his second debut for the club from the bench after arriving on trial from Warrington.

Graham Steadman, who admitted last week that Castleford's chances of finishing in the top five this time have disappeared, has been offered the coaching job for next season.

Steadman said that he has put that prospect to the back of his mind whilst concentrating on trying to finish the season strongly, starting at The Jungle tonight, when Mitch Healey is expected to return.

Defeat would make Leeds vulnerable to a late charge from the London Broncos. Leeds have to play Wigan and Warrington at home and St Helens and Bradford away, all of which, in their post-Iestyn Harris depression, they could conceivably lose.

London have a much easier run-in, against Huddersfield twice, Salford and Halifax, so tomorrow's game at Hull is their last remaining problem fixture.

Elsewhere the bottom of the table could change for the first time this season if Huddersfield win at Halifax and Wakefield lose to Salford.

Widnes, the side that will replace Super League's bottom team, have re-signed their former full-back Stuart Spruce, subject to a medical. The Great Britain international was released by Bradford after missing most of this season with a serious shoulder injury.