Lydon moves on to greater glories

Rugby League
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The Independent Online
Wigan will go into their game with St Helens today without one of their dominant figures of recent years in their camp. Joe Lydon resigned yesterday as the club's football manager, a role he took on after a glittering playing career at Central Park.

He is now expected to take charge of youth development for the Rugby League, a role vacant since John Kear's departure for Sheffield. "I have several other options open to me and I will be considering them all," Lydon said. "I have been at Wigan for the last 11 years and I am proud to have played my part as player, coach and manager at a club that has gained so much success."

Paul Anderson, the 19-year-old whose form as a back-row forward was one of the highlights of the Great Britain Academy tour of New Zealand this autumn, will be entrusted with St Helens' stand-off role this afternoon.

The second leg of the Norweb Winter Challenge between the two old rivals is subject to a pitch inspection at 9am this morning. If it goes ahead, Saints will start 10 points down and still without their regular No 6, Karle Hammond, who is mourning the death of his younger brother.

"Paul is really a second rower, but he has very good skills," Shaun McRae, the Saints coach, said. He carries out a second experiment by playing Andy Northey at hooker, but has high hopes Bobbie Goulding will return after missing the first leg with a back injury and Paul Newlove and Chris Morley will recover from strains and knocks picked up at Central Park.

McRae admits that his side was flattered by the 10-point deficit from that match, but believes home advantage now leaves the contest wide open. "The evidence of last season is that home ground is worth about 15 points in matches between the two clubs," he said. "It is now perfectly balanced."

West was delighted with the way a string of young reserves performed in the first leg. They will have to maintain the same standard, although the squad could be strengthened by the return of Nigel Wright after flu.

Leeds have continued their restructuring with the acquisition, on a six- month secondment, of one of Australia's leading backroom men. Rudi Meir will join the club within the next two weeks as conditioning and skills co-ordinator to work alongside the coach, Dean Bell, in preparing the side for the Super League season.

An amateur team have been thrown out of the Challenge Cup for playing two registered professionals, Rob Hutchinson, of Hull KR, and Darren Grice, of Featherstone, in their first-round victory. Norland, from Humberside, beat Milford 34-20 but, following a protest from Milford, had the result overturned by the Rugby League, who reinstated the Leeds club.