Rugby League: Reilly resigns as replacements wait in wings: Reilly resigns as Great Britain coach - First Division's unlikely pace-setters

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MALCOLM REILLY has resigned as Great Britain coach, a week after announcing that he is to join the Newcastle Knights for next season and little more than a month before the arrival of the Kangaroo tourists.

Reilly, in charge of the national side for seven and a half years, announced his decision last night. He thought that he would not be able to devote himself totally to the task if he stayed on as coach.

'I've only got the team at heart,' he said. 'Going into a Test series you've got to be single-minded and focused on one goal. And with all the distractions I am not quite sure whether it would have been fair on the team.'

An announcement on whether he would continue until his new Australian club needed him in November had been scheduled for Monday. That meeting will now reveal the immediate succession, with the names in the frame appearing to be his former assistant, Phil Larder; the ex-Great Britain captain, Ellery Hanley; and, subject to his health, the former Wigan and New Zealand coach, Graham Lowe - possibly in some combination.

Reilly remains in charge at Halifax, where the St Helens coach, Eric Hughes, must find a replacement for his captain and stand-off, Shane Cooper, who must have a mandatory two-week lay-off after suffering severe concussion in the defeat by Warrington on Wednesday. Hughes is unhappy about the clash with Bruce McGuire that produced the injury, but has decided against citing him on video evidence.

Potential deputies for Cooper, like Jonathan Griffiths, Tommy Martyn and Phil Veivers, have all been injured, so the Great Britain Academy stand-off, Phil Waring, could make his championship debut as Saints try to repair their disastrous start to the season.

Wigan and Bradford Northern, first and second in the championship last season, adopt different policies over the arrival from New Zealand today of arguably the most talented brothers in the game.

Henry Paul, the 20-year-old former Junior Kiwi captain, goes straight into Wigan's squad to play Sheffield Eagles and will make his debut as substitute. 'He will have some players looking over their shoulders,' the Wigan coach, Graeme West, said. 'But that is the way to get better performances out of players.' West is without Neil Cowie, injured in the opening match at Featherstone, but has Phil Clarke back at loose forward after an operation on his wrist. .

Bradford are resisting the temptation to plunge Robbie Paul, Henry's younger brother, who is described by some observers in New Zealand as even more extravagantly gifted, in against Oldham. The Bradford coach, Peter Fox, plans to use him in the A team before considering him for first-team duty.