Leeds stunned as Laughton resigns

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Doug Laughton yesterday resigned as coach of Leeds just hours after the appointment of Dean Bell as his assistant. Laughton, in charge at Headingley for four years, insisted that the arrival of the former Wigan and New Zealand captain had not influenced his decision. "I just think the time is right to hand over," he said.

Since Laughton's arrival in May 1991, Leeds have emerged as the major rivals to Wigan. They have been beaten in the last two Challenge Cup finals and were also runners-up to Wigan in this year's championship and Premiership.

Bell was originally enlisted to serve under Laughton as a player-coach to replace Ellery Hanley, who has signed a contract with the Australian Rugby League. The Leeds chief executive, Alf Davies, said that it was now likely that Bell would assume overall command, although it is doubtful whether he could combine that with playing. "Doug has not told us officially that he has resigned," Davies said, "but if it is true I am stunned."

Laughton's bombshell comes the day before he was to discuss finance for bids for Jonah Lomu and Joost van der Westhuizen with the Leeds committee.