St Helens' suspended coach, Ian Millward, has been given the details of the club's case against him but intends to fight to keep his job.
Millward yesterday attended a two-hour disciplinary meeting chaired by Saints' chairman, Eamonn McManus, and was told of three charges against him which led to him being suspended on full pay this week.
They are understood to be: a row with a media manager at Warrington in March; being caught swearing on television during the match against Bradford on Easter Monday; and a spat with a St Helens employee over an opposition player - Wigan's Brian Carney - arriving at a Saints' training session to meet one of the club's players.
Neither Millward nor his legal advisors believe that these incidents amount to grounds for dismissal. But, though he still hopes to return to the job he has done so successfully for the past five years, it could be that the breakdown of his relationship with the club and particularly with the chief executive, Sean McGuire, has passed the point of no return.
Millward, whose father flew in from Australia to support him at the hearing, has been told to expect a decision from the club within the next couple of days, but that is unlikely to be the end of the matter.
The former Australian coach, Chris Anderson, the New Zealand coach, Daniel Anderson, and - most startlingly - Bradford and Great Britain's Brian Noble are amongst rumoured replacements.
It would also be astonishing if Millward had not been approached by one or more clubs eager to seize the unexpected opportunity to enlist Super League's most successful coach.
Dave Rotheram, Millward's assistant, who is in temporary charge at Saints, has decided to rest Jamie Lyon and Nick Fozzard from tonight's Challenge Cup tie against York.
Although the club will be bracing itself for a hostile reaction from their supporters to the Millward situation, Rotheram is claiming that it will be "business as usual" for himself and his players against the National League Two club.
Saints played a practice match yesterday against Union Treiziste Catalane, the Super League-bound French side who play at Wigan tonight.
Wigan's French forward, Jerome Guisset, has warned his team-mates to expect a severe test. Guisset himself was a recruitment target for UTC, but says that he is delighted that he took up a two-year contract at Wigan instead.
The winger Marcus Bai will miss Leeds' match tonight against another French side, Pia, after flying home to Papua New Guinea, where his brother is seriously ill. Lee Smith will make his full debut in his place.Reuse content