Stirling locked in tribunal battle with Leeds coach

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Leeds' preparations for their playoff clash with Bradford on Saturday are being complicated by the small matter of one of their players accusing their coach, Dean Lance, of racial discrimination at an industrial tribunal.

Leeds' preparations for their playoff clash with Bradford on Saturday are being complicated by the small matter of one of their players accusing their coach, Dean Lance, of racial discrimination at an industrial tribunal.

Paul Stirling has taken his case to the tribunal, at which Lance is expected to appear today. Yesterday, the club's chief executive, Gary Hetherington, told the hearing that he had investigated Stirling's claims and found no evidence to support them and that other black players at the club had not supported the allegations.

Stirling was left out of the Leeds side after the arrival of Lance at the start of the season and claims that he was told that he would not get his place back no matter what he did. Since then, Lance, who at 36 is the oldest player in Super League, has re-established himself and played in the victory over Castleford last weekend.

The timing of the case could hardly be worse for the club, which said yesterday that it could not make any comment until the matter was settled.

The Australian second-rower, David Barnhill, is to leave Leeds one year into a two-year contract.

Barnhill, left out of the squad against Castleford last Saturday, has decided to end his career at the age of 30.

"I've not been able to get as much game time as I would have liked and I think that has affected my ability to contribute to the team effort," he said.

Hetherington said that Barnhill, who still plans to play for Ireland in the Lincoln World Cup before going home, had passed on a great deal of experience to younger players.

The London Broncos have admitted that a new rule insists that overseas coaches can only perform that task in England if they have coached at top level in their own country will limit their options as they look to fill their vacancy.

The Broncos have been looking to Australia for a replacement for John Monie, who was sacked late in the season.

"If that is the rule we will have to work within it," said the club's chief executive Tony Rea. "It does narrow it down a bit."

The first name linked with the job, Rea's former North Sydney team-mate, Mark Graham, would qualify as he is currently coaching the Auckland Warriors. Rea, however, believes that he will be staying with them.

St Helens have appointed Harry Bryant, formerly with Illawarra and North Queensland, as assistant to Ian Millward, in time to avoid the new restriction, whilst the club's Great Britain forward, Paul Sculthorpe, has agreed a new four-year contract.

Meanwhile, Saints have reached an out-of-court settlement with Ellery Hanley, the coach they sacked at the start of this season.

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