Whistle is angered by Bees' claim

The Belfast Giants coach, Dave Whistle, yesterday reacted angrily to accusations that he has poached players from his former club, Bracknell Bees.

The Belfast Giants coach, Dave Whistle, yesterday reacted angrily to accusations that he has poached players from his former club, Bracknell Bees.

Whistle resigned his position with Bracknell just weeks after guiding them to the Sekonda Superleague title in order to lead the Giants in their inaugural season.

Since then, Whistle has signed four Bracknell players - Kevin Riehl, Todd Kelman, Colin Ward and Paxton Schulte - for Belfast, which led the Bees to claim their former coach had gone against his word that he would not poach any of his former employees. However, Whistle has retaliated by saying that Bracknell did not do enough in order to persuade him or the players concerned to stay at the club.

"Before I left, I gave Bracknell a list of guys I thought they should re-sign so the truth of the matter is, I'm not poaching anyone," he said. "I feel really bad about the fact they are making me out to be the bad guy in all this. They should look at themselves and how they have handled things.

"These guys are coming to me because Bracknell are offering them pay cuts in return for winning the league championship and I'm not going to sit idly by when they become available.

"I have no bad feelings about signing them because Bracknell have had plenty of time to reach their own agreements. Bracknell are not used to success and I think they failed to appreciate that you have to work hard at retaining players, especially when they are part of a winning team.

"I don't think it really bothered Bracknell that much that I left. If they had handled my situation differently I may well have stayed. I really enjoyed my time and it was a wrench to leave, but I had to."

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