Wigan Warriors are set to give their Grand Final squad a boost by rewarding the coaches who have guided them there with two-year contracts.
Mike Gregory and Denis Betts have been working on a caretaker basis since Stuart Raper was sacked in July, but an announcement that they are staying on is expected during the build-up to the game with Bradford this week. Wigan are also set to confirm that their Australian winger Brett Dallas will also be staying at the club.
Raper is edging closer to the coaching job at his old club, Cronulla, who are trying to terminate the contract of Chris Anderson, who is also coach of the Australian national side. In the latest twist in that feud, Cronulla have banned Anderson from talking to their players, although two of them, Brett Kimmorley and Phil Bailey, are in the side he has named to face New Zealand on Saturday.
As well as Bailey, Michael de Vere and Richard Villasanti win their first caps in a side captained for the first time by Darren Lockyer. Australia fly to Britain after the Auckland Test.
The Bradford second-rower Jamie Peacock has continued his clean sweep of the season's individual awards by being named Man of Steel. Peacock was already the rugby league writers' player of the year and monopolised the top awards at his club. He was presented with the leading individual award in the game at a ceremony in Manchester last night. His coach, Brian Noble, was named coach of the year, while Wigan's Gareth Hock is the young player of the year.
SUPER LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS
Man of Steel: J Peacock (Bradford).
Coach of the Year: B Noble (Bradford).
Young Player of the Year: G Hock (Wigan).
Players' Player of the Year: J Peacock (Bradford).
Referee of the Year: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).
Top try scorer: D Moran (London), with 24 tries in the regular season.
Opta hit man: S Millard (Widnes), with 856 tackles in the regular season.
Opta metre maker: L Vainikolo (Bradford), with 3,677 metres in the regular season.