Rugby League: Hanley returns to work after apologising to Saints board

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The Independent Online
ELLERY HANLEY will be back at work as coach of St Helens today following the thrashing out of a good old-fashioned British compromise in a full day of legal negotiations yesterday.

Hanley, who had been suspended on full pay for nine days following his outspoken criticism of the Saints board, has apologised to them and will now be allowed to carry on with the job he began at the start of the season.

"I regret my involvement in the events of the last couple of weeks and my comments suggesting that the board is in any way old-fashioned or unprofessional," Hanley said in a prepared statement.

"I share the board's view that matters that were publicly raised should have been more properly raised internally. I apologise to the board for any offence caused."

Hanley said that he was confident of his ability to work again with the directors, despite his various descriptions of them as "rude and ignorant", "disgraceful" and "dinosaurs". The chairman of the board, Howard Morris, agreed that a working relationship will be possible.

"The club is delighted that after lengthy discussions with Ellery Hanley, agreement has been reached to the satisfaction of all parties for his return to work," said Morris. "We wish to put the last couple of weeks behind us for the purpose of taking the club forward to its rightful place at the top of the Super League."

Whether that will be possible remains to be seen. Particularly angry words have been exchanged between Hanley and the club's football executive, Eric Hughes, and it is hard to see how the two of them can work harmoniously again.

On the other hand, the support that spectators and players showed for Hanley during and after Sunday's match against Hull demonstrated that sacking him would not have been an easy option either.

The club captain, Chris, Joynt, welcomed the reinstatement of Hanley. "It's business as usual from tomorrow," he said. "We just want to play rugby and not get involved in the politics. When Ellery was suspended we just went out there to concentrate on the game."

The question of how well the whole thing will hang together gets an early and searching test; Hanley has just three days to prepare Saints for their match at Leeds on Friday night.

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