Rovers suspend head coach Howard

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Harvey Howard, the head coach at Hull Kingston Rovers, was suspended yesterday with immediate effect. A statement issued by the club said it had "no option" but to take the action.

The suspension of the former Great Britain forward is pending an investigation after, the club claims, Howard failed to respond to requests to discuss a number of allegations relating to his conduct and duties as head coach.

The club statement added: "The board appreciate and understand that this is a critical stage of the season and will endeavour to resolve the situation as soon as practically possible." James Webster, the club captain, has been placed in temporary charge alongside the director of rugby, Phil Lowe.

Howard, who included stints at Widnes, Leeds, Bradford, Wigan and Brisbane in his well-travelled playing career, was appointed to his first coaching job at Rovers at the end of last season.

They are currently third in National League 1 but have been undergoing some internal tension over the board's instruction to Howard to trim the club's playing staff.

It is understood that he was suspended after failing to attend a meeting with the board yesterday.

His suspension follows St Helens taking similar action against Ian Millward last month, culminating in him being dismissed as their coach.

Rovers' Super League neighbours, Hull, have agreed a new two-year contract with Chris Chester and have made an offer to Paul Cooke, which he is now considering.

For tonight's match at Wigan, Hull be without Richard Whiting, and Gareth Raynor, while Wigan are to give debuts to their new signing from Leeds, Liam Botham, and the 18-year-old full-back or stand-off, Chris Ashton.

Paul Sculthorpe is still having trouble with his hamstring and is out of St Helens' match at Salford tonight.