Rugby League: Millward goes as Halifax coach

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The Independent Online
ROGER MILLWARD has resigned as coach of Halifax after 17 months in the job. The Halifax director, Peter Marsland, said last night that the former Great Britain captain has decided to leave after discussions with the board 'in the best interests of the club.'

Millward, previously coach at Hull KR for 14 years, has spent heavily to try to turn Halifax into a force once more. Although they lie a respectable sixth in the First Division, they have lost their last three games, culminating in a 42- 14 defeat at Leeds last Friday.

Millward was philosophical about what looks suspiciously like a forced exit. 'That's life in football,' he said. 'I'll get through the Christmas period and then look at my future.' Halifax expect to name a caretaker coach today.

The strength in depth that has made Wigan the dominant force in the British game will be tested as never before in February.

The club's chairman, Jack Robinson, has confirmed that the only way he can see out of a deepening fixture crisis is to play Bradford Northern on 7 February, while a 10-man squad will be in Sydney defending the World Sevens title.

'It's a gamble, but playing three or four matches a week at the end of the season is a gamble as well,' he said.

Wigan are obliged to send a strong squad to Sydney. Martin Offiah, the key figure in last year's tournament, will definitely go, and it is hard to imagine a credible line-up without the likes of Shaun Edwards and Denis Betts.

Wigan will flesh out the squad with fringe first-teamers such as Andre Stoop, Jason Robinson, Neil Cowie and Barrie-Jon Mather, all of whom have the makings of good sevens players. 'That will still leave us with virtually a full pack to play Bradford,' Robinson said. 'We believe that, provided we avoid an injury crisis, we can put out two very good sides.'

One possibility is the use of guest players in Sydney. Former Wigan players Gene Miles and John Ferguson are in Australia and, although officially retired, could be added to the squad without bringing it into disrepute.

St Helens have rejected a suggestion from Wigan that their derby on Sunday should be switched to Central Park, which has under-soil heating.

One match that will not be played tonight is the remaining Regal Trophy third-round tie between Bradford and Widnes. Odsal is still frozen and Bradford are looking at ways of complying with the Rugby League's instruction that it must be played by next Tuesday at the latest.

The League has told referees to be at grounds two and a half hours before matches when there is a doubt about conditions, in order to make an early decision.

John Devereux has joined Garry Schofield in falling foul of his British club over his plans to play for the Australian club, Manly, this summer. Widnes say that the insurance cover for his stay is inadequate.