Hanley proves hard to replace

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The Independent Online

England have major problems in looking for a replacement for Ellery Hanley as their World Cup coach. Although Hanley has yet to tell the Rugby League that he is leaving Britain to take up a lucrative contract in Australia, he has confirmed to Leeds that he is on his way - a badly kept secret in the game for several weeks.

That leaves Great Britain needing a new coach. The most urgent responsibility for which Hanley was earmarked was leading England into October's Centenary World Cup tournament.

Convincing potential successors are not plentiful, although the names of Phil Larder, Gary Hetherington, John Joyner and Andy Goodway have already been mentioned.

Hetherington was Hanley's assistant, while Larder, who has enhanced his reputation at Keighley this season, was assistant to Malcolm Reilly before he, too, decamped to Australia.

Larder, however, turned down the chance to take over from Reilly, because he did not want a foreigner - New Zealand's Graham Lowe - to be involved, and that could count against him.

Joyner, in charge at Castleford, also ruled himself out after Reilly's resignation, feeling that he lacked sufficient experience.

Goodway has done well in one season at Oldham and is highly rated by the League's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay. It is indicative of the dearth of home-grown coaches, though, that tenth place and a Challenge Cup semi-final should have put him near the head of the queue so quickly.

That dearth may cause the League to look overseas again, with the name of Dean Bell being whispered in some circles.

Bell has never coached a club side, but nor had Hanley, and he is gaining valuable experience under John Monie in his native Auckland.

Hanley is being linked with the coaching job at Illawarra, but so is the former Test scrum-half, Peter Sterling. To complicate matters further, Sterling and two former Illawarra coaches, Brian Smith and Graham Murray, are being talked of in connection with a job at Bradford Northern. The Bradford board, however, have denied that their coach, Peter Fox, is under threat.

The Australian Super League claims that a Japanese company has contacted them, hoping to enter a side in the competition.