Rugby League: Pivotal moment for compatriot coaches

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THE coaches of Oldham and Wigan, one who was appointed last week while the other faced calls for his dismissal, have more in common than both having played rugby league for Western Suburbs and Australia.

Bob Lindner and John Dorahy face searching examinations of their composure today at home to Widnes and Salford respectively. Indeed the matches may prove pivotal in deciding what the rest of the season holds for their clubs, which are at present occupying opposite ends of the First Division.

Dorahy is supposedly a byword for coolness. It hardly seemed that way last Wednesday night when he reacted to Wigan's defeat by Wakefield with an intemperate attack on Robin Whitfield for refereeing in the manner he does every week. Dorahy, who now faces a League inquiry into his remarks, has been around far too long, and knows the British game too well, for that kind of broadside to be convincing.

He needs to abandon the search for scapegoats and return Wigan to their familiar focus for this afternoon's game if opinion at Central Park is not to harden against him. Had Wigan lost at Hull in the Challenge Cup last week - and they deserved to - by now calls for his dismissal could have become too great to ignore.

Lindner faces a challenge of a different kind as he tries to combine coaching with playing. It will not be easy to steer Oldham away from relegation, but there could be worse days than today to play Widnes, who, if last year is anything to go by, might be turning their thoughts towards Cup matters.

Lindner, brought to the club, ironically, by Peter Tunks, his predecessor who resigned last Monday, has decided against wholesale changes, despite the defeat against Second Division opposition that forced Tunks' hand towards the loaded revolver. 'The players who lost at Doncaster can play a lot better,' he said. They need to prove him right - and quickly.

TODAY'S FIXTURES Stones Bitter Championship (3.0 unless stated) Bradford v Hull KR; Castleford v Leigh (3.30); Hull v Leeds (3.15); Oldham v Widnes; St Helens v Featherstone; Wakefield v Sheffield (3.30); Wigan v Salford. Second Division Dewsbury v London Crusaders (3.30); Doncaster v Workington; Highfield v Bramley; Huddersfield v Barrow (3.30); Keighley v Hunslet (3.15); Ryedale-York v Rochdale (3.15); Swinton v Carlisle; Whitehaven v Batley (2.30).