Rugby League: Keighley call on Crooks as coach

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KEIGHLEY have replaced their coach, John Kain, four matches into the First Division season, paving the way for the return to the game of Lee Crooks. The former Great Britain forward is set to be named today as the new boss of a team without a League win this year.

Crooks has been out of the game since his contract as an assistant coach at Castleford expired at the end of last season: he had retired as a player midway through the campaign.

Crooks has been desperate to get his start in coaching, but last night month turned down an offer from the ambitious amateur club, the Oxford Cavaliers, to coach them on a part-time basis, in the hope that a full- time role would crop up elsewhere.

He now appears to have beaten John Joyner, who was replaced as Castleford coach last year, for the difficult job of reviving Keighley, whose recent financial crises have weakened their playing staff to the point where they are struggling to compete in the First Division. Kain is likely to stay at Keighley in some capacity.

All four games so far this season have been lost, culminating in a 50- 12 thrashing at Dewsbury on Sunday.

The Castleford-based referee, Steve Presley, has been left on the sidelines for the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup this weekend, after complaints from Halifax about his handling of their tie against the London Broncos in the last round.

Halifax lost 21-18 in a match of several controversial tries, after which two London forwards, Terry Matterson and Peter Gill, were sent letters from the League warning them about their future conduct.

A five-match tour by New Zealand will bring the British season to an end with an international flavour in November.

A meeting of the Test-playing nations in Australia has confirmed that the scheduled World Cup in Australasia this autumn will be postponed until the situation in the southern hemisphere - where a unified competition kicks off this weekend - has settled down.

Huddersfield, Watford and Bolton have been earmarked as the likely venues for the three Tests, but the Kiwis have warned that they will be reluctant to play any extra games outside the code's heartland as missionary exercises.