Sharp heads back to McAlpine

Tony Smith's former assistant, Jon Sharp, is the man appointed to replace him at Huddersfield next season.

Sharp has spent the last two seasons as No 2 to Ian Millward at St Helens, but said that the chance to return to the McAlpine Stadium as head coach was too good to resist.

"The ultimate goal was to be a head coach. Saints wanted to keep me, but they encouraged me," said the 36-year-old former Hull forward. "It's a very proud moment. I've been given a tremendous opportunity and I'm looking forward to it."

The Giants chief executive, Ralph Rimmer, said that Sharp had been their first choice for the job. "Jon knows our systems, structures and set-up," he said. "He's very highly regarded in our organisation and will come to us having spent the last two seasons at arguably the best side in the competition."

Sharp, who had a stint in charge of Batley, gets his chance at Huddersfield because of Smith's decision to move to Leeds next season. His departure from Saints at the end of the season could create an opportunity for Tony Anderson, whose Halifax side are as good as relegated from Super League.

Saints will also be without the Great Britain centre Martin Gleeson for the rest of the season. Gleeson needs a second operation on his left leg after blood poisoning set in. "He's going in for a skin graft because he's got a huge hole in his leg," said Millward. "We're not expecting him back this season."

That is a further blow to Saints' hopes of retaining their Super League title, especially with their other first-choice centre, Paul Newlove, ruled out for the season.

It also gives David Waite a third player - after the jailed Leeds duo, Chev Walker and Ryan Bailey - to replace in his Great Britain squad to face the Australians this autumn.

Stuart Raper, who was told to pack his bags by Wigan last week, has every chance of being given a job by his old club, Cronulla. The Cronulla and Australia coach, Chris Anderson, says he would welcome Raper, who was once the Sharks' reserve grade coach, back into the organisation.

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