Rugby League: Martin's poor start takes toll

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The Independent Online
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS have split with their coach, Steve Martin, after a little more than two seasons in charge. The former North Sydney coach met the club's committee this week and the two parties have taken the well-worn path of parting by mutual agreement.

'They couldn't afford to sack me and I wasn't going to resign,' Martin said. 'But I couldn't work on there if I didn't feel that they were behind me, so we had to come to a settlement.'

Martin steered Featherstone to promotion during his first season at Post Office Road and the club achieved their priority of avoiding relegation last season. But some ambitious recruitment has failed to produce quick results this term. Rovers have taken just five points from their first eight matches and are uncomfortably close to the foot of the table.

As well as the results, there have been rumblings about the style of play under Martin, whose assistant, Terry Hudson, has resigned, leaving Rovers to find a new coaching staff before their next game, at home to Halifax on 25 October.

Among the likely candidates are the former Wakefield coach, David Topliss, Castleford's assistant coach, Allan Agar, and Garry Schofield, Leeds' deposed Great Britain captain, as player-coach.

The most intriguing prospect, however, would be a return to the game for Alex Murphy, the unhappily unemployed veteran, possibly in tandem with Harold Box, the former Featherstone player.

SCOTT QUINNELL, Wigan's new Welsh rugby union signing from Llanelli, made a surprise appearance last night when he played for 65 minutes as a substitute in the 36-16 reserve-team victory at Salford, his first taste of the league game since turning professional last month in a four- year deal worth pounds 400,000.