Wigan take chance on Maguire

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The Independent Online

Wigan's new coach, their 11th of the 15-year Super League era, is with them in spirit if not yet in body. The game's most famous club yesterday confirmed the 35-year-old Melbourne Storm assistant, Michael Maguire, as the new man in charge. Maguire has agreed a three-year contract, but will not be able to start until he gets his visa in about three weeks.

The Wigan chairman, Ian Lenagan, said that Maguire, who has never held a head coaching position, will work alongside Shaun Wane, who is being promoted from reserve coach to first-team assistant.

"It's a big step for me, but I've been well grounded by my opportunities in Australia," said Maguire, via video link from Melbourne. "It's come at the right time for me. I've had a really good apprenticeship and I'm really excited."

Lenagan dispensed with the services of Brian Noble after Saturday's play-off defeat by St Helens and said yesterday that only winning the Challenge Cup would have saved his job. He defended his decision to look overseas for a successor. "We want success now and success now means an Australian coach," he said. "We need the intellectual approach to coaching that only an Australian at the moment can bring."

Lenagan said that Maguire was committed to blooding the club's current crop of young players – all of whom have been nurtured so far in their careers by Wane. "It's a little like Manchester United 15 years ago, with David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Co. We've got that sort of pool of young talent coming through," he said.

Stephen Kearney, a previous target for Wigan, has agreed to carry on coaching New Zealand for the next four years.

Three Warrington players in England's Four Nations squad – Adrian Morley, Ben Harrison and Chris Bridge – have agreed contract extensions until 2012. Harlequins have signed the Barrow hooker, Andy Ellis, on a two-year contract. Elliot Kear, who impressed in several outings towards the end of the Super League season, has been rewarded with a full-time contract at the Celtic Crusaders.

Doncaster have been given the all-clear to compete in Championship 1 next season after going into administration earlier this year.

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