Rugby League: Coach Crooks in Keighley exit

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KEIGHLEY LAST night parted company with their coach, Lee Crooks, the former Great Britain forward who had been in charge of the Northern Ford Premiership club for just 12 months.

"It's a financial decision and one that I have got to accept," said the 35-year-old Crooks, whose contract was due to expire in November. "The club approached me and asked if I would be prepared to accept some form of severance. There is no animosity, it was an amicable agreement. The club's interests have got to come first."

Keighley suffered their fifth League defeat of the season at Leigh on Sunday and are lying six points off a play-off place. Crooks becomes the division's second coaching casualty this season following the sacking of Colin Maskill at Doncaster.

The London Broncos breathed a sign of relief at the news that their second- row forward, Robbie Simpson, will be able to play in the Challenge Cup final against Leeds.

Simpson was found guilty of a high tackle for which he was placed on report during the 40-8 defeat by Wakefield on Sunday, but was suspended for just one match at his hearing yesterday.

Dominic Peters will move from the wing to the second row to cover for Simpson's absence against Warrington on Saturday, with Rob Smyth coming back in an effort to prove his fitness for the final a week later.

London are already without Grant Young, Darren Bradstreet and Brett Warton for Wembley because of injuries, and their coach, Dan Stains, will not select Shaun Edwards if he risks long-term damage to a broken thumb.

Leeds are to play five matches in 16 days. The Rhinos have been instructed to play St Helens at Knowsley Road on 4 May, three days after the final.

Salford, one of only two teams without a victory in Super League, will have Gary Broadbent, David Hulme and Malcolm Alker fit to return after injuries at Gateshead on Sunday.

Australia and New Zealand have been forced into changes in their sides for the Test in Sydney on Friday. Craig Gower has been dropped from the Australian side as a disciplinary measure after an incident at their hotel, with Andrew Johns coming in at hooker. The Kiwi captain, Quentin Pongia, and Tony Puletua are both out, with Terry Hermansson and Matthew Rua taking their places.

The former Australian coach, Bob Fulton, has resigned as coach of Manly, who have lost all seven matches this season.