Chris Thorman, one of Britain's most promising young players, is set to turn his back on offers in this country to sign a contract with the Australian club, Parramatta. The London Broncos half-back had been expected to sign a three-year deal with Hull this week.
Parramatta are coached by Brian Smith, the brother of Tony Smith, who coached Thorman at Huddersfield and has recommended him strongly. The Geordie, who made a major impact playing for Yorkshire in last month's Origin Game, has been offered a one-year contract with another year's option and wants to fulfil his dream of playing in the National Rugby League, the strongest competition in the world.
The news will come as another blow to Hull, who were recently disappointed in their attempts to sign Danny Orr, who opted instead for Wigan.
Mike Gregory, the new Wigan coach, meanwhile, admitted the chance to take charge of his hometown club was too good to turn down.
Gregory, the former Great Britain captain, was yesterday named coach at the JJB Stadium following the sudden departure of Stuart Raper. Raper had planned to step down at the end of the season to return to his native Australia for family reasons, but the club announced he would be leaving with immediate effect.
Gregory, who had been Raper's assistant, will take over until the end of the Super League campaign and is hoping to impress enough to earn the job full-time.
Gregory said: "This is probably the biggest job in rugby league. I couldn't turn it down. I'll thrive on it. I will work as best as I can and as professionally as I can to make sure we achieve the goals I believe we can attain.
"It is a massive challenge. A Wiganer coaching Wigan - it doesn't happen very often. It is an honour. It is a privilege to work with the kind of calibre of players that we have got."
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