Rugby League: Bell leaves Leeds to take up new role at Wigan

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DEAN BELL, the former Wigan captain, is leaving Leeds Rhinos to take up a new job at his old club. The 37-year-old former New Zealand Test centre has been appointed to a football manager's role at Wigan, who have yet to announce a successor to Andy Goodway, dismissed as their head coach last week.

Bell, captain of Wigan during their record-breaking seasons in the late 80s and early 90s, was head coach of Leeds in the first two seasons of Super League before making way for the appointment of Graham Murray in 1997.

He remained at Headingley to take charge of junior development and helped the Rhinos' Academy team to back-to-back Grand Final wins. He has been released by the Leeds chief executive, Gary Hetherington, from the final year of his contract.

"I see it as a career opportunity," Bell said. "I've been very happy here at Leeds but I feel I can offer more and I need to move on now."

St Helens have completed the signing of the Auckland Warriors back-row forward Bryan Henare. The 25-year-old has agreed a two-year contract with Saints and will arrive early next month subject to work permit clearance.

Gateshead's chief executive Shane Richardson has defended the decision to merge with Hull Sharks and lose their identity by revealing that the club incurred debts of pounds 700,000 in their only season as a professional side and would have had to double their gates to survive.

"The loss sustained was more dramatic than we envisaged," Richardson said.