Rugby League: Leeds appoint Lance as coach

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The Independent Online
LEEDS HAVE ended the uncertainty about the identity of their coach for next season with the appointment of Dean Lance on a three-year contract.

The 40-year-old Australian was one of seven candidates interviewed by the club's chief executive, Gary Hetherington, on his recent head-hunting expedition Down Under and will arrive in November to take over from Graham Murray, who is returning home to coach North Sydney.

Lance was a highly respected player with Newtown and Canberra, both of whom he captained, before being added to the Canberra coaching staff. He has had an unfortunate career as a head coach, both the Perth Reds and the Adelaide Rams having been killed off amid Australian rugby league's political machinations after he had been in charge for single season.

He has emerged from a high-class field of contenders to earn what is arguably the biggest job in the British game, one made even more prestigious by Leeds winning the Challenge Cup under Murray earlier this month.

The Cronulla and former Australia coach, John Lang, was Lance's most formidable rival for the job, but his situation has been complicated by his concern for his elderly and infirm mother.

"Dean was the only person to whom we've offered the job and I'm in no doubt that we've got the right man," said Hetherington. "He was always a front-runner. His application came straight in as soon as the job came up. We had very good reports of him from Australia and those were reinforced when I met him."

Lance will spend time at the club during this season, partly in order to get to know the back-up coaching staff that he will inherit.

"We were looking for someone with personality, ability and ambition and he comes out very strongly on all three of those qualities," said Hetherington.

"We are confident that he will carry on Graham Murray's good work. Despite what happened to Perth and Adelaide, his coaching record there was pretty good and his time at Canberra means that he has been involved with a top- class, high-profile club and knows about the pressures and the expectations."

Meanwhile, Murray has made just one change in the Leeds team to meet Halifax tonight, Brad Godden returning after injury, Francis Cummins reverting to the wing and Paul Sterling dropping to the bench.

Gateshead Thunder have signed the Bramley prop, Danny McAllister, on indefinite loan. The Australian previously played for Sheffield and South Queensland.

Gateshead's opponents on Sunday, the London Broncos, have dropped Martin Offiah, with Rob Smyth and Dominic Peters filling the wing positions. Offiah, the most prolific English try-scorer of all time, will instead play for the reserves at his original club, Widnes.

The Wigan and Great Britain captain, Andy Farrell, is in danger of missing his first Super League match since the inception of the competition three and a half seasons ago. Farrell could miss tomorrow's game at Bradford ending Super League's last ever-present record.