Rugby League: Dorahy under fire as Bell is promoted: Coach blames 'political warfare' for Wigan's inconsistent league form

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Wigan have fuelled speculation about the future of their coach, John Dorahy, by promoting Dean Bell to assist him.

The move comes the day after a stormy AGM at the club highlighted the political in- fighting which threatens to undermine their dominance in the game.

The Wigan chairman, Jack Robinson, said that Bell, who leaves at the end of this season to rejoin his former coach, John Monie, at the Auckland Warriors, would become the 'co-ordinating and motivating coach' under Dorahy.

But Robinson denied suggestions that there had been a major disagreement in training between Dorahy and his senior players and that the Australian, in the first season of a three-year contract, had been sacked. 'Obviously, there has been some disagreement, but what we are trying to do now is to ensure that everyone is pulling in the same direction,' he said.

Although Wigan have won through to their seventh consecutive Wembley final, their recent league form has been their worst for many years.

'What concerns you more is that you know the players are capable of doing so much better,' Robinson said.

Dorahy blamed 'political warfare' for the inconsistency of his side's performances. 'There is a battle going on at board level with someone trying to get into the club and unfortunately some of the senior players have allowed themselves to be dragged into it in a way that prevents them giving their best.

'There is one existing board member who never wanted me here as coach and that has helped to make the situation highly political.'

Dorahy's position is beginning to look increasingly embattled. Alongside opposition at board level, he admits that there has been hostility from 'one or two senior players'.

Dissatisfaction on the terraces was echoed at this week's AGM. 'A lot of people wanted my head,' Dorahy said. 'But a lot of people wanted John Monie's head when he was here. Expectations are so high.'

Dorahy, despite expressing surprise that Bell appeared to have a title, said that not too much significance should be attached to his expanded role. 'He has been trying to help throughout the year and now I've asked Dean to increase his input because the players respect him as a leader,' he said.

Wigan face demanding games against St Helens and Warrington over Easter, which will test their attempts to rediscover their unity of purpose.