Rugby League: Reilly takes over as Halifax coach

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The Independent Online
MALCOLM REILLY, the Great Britain coach, is the new coach at Halifax - a job he will combine with his national duties, writes Dave Hadfield.

Reilly has been in charge of the Test side for six years, the last three of them in a full-time capacity, but admits to having missed the daily involvement with players that he previously enjoyed as coach at Castleford and Leeds.

'It has been in my mind for some time to go back to club coaching,' he said, 'but I didn't envisage combining the two.' It was widely expected that Reilly would return to Castleford, his only English club as a player, when Darryl Van de Velde leaves at the end of this season. 'But I think I'm too close to the club and its players,' he said.

At Halifax, he takes over from Roger Millward, who was sacked last month, but he will be released by the club when needed by Great Britain. Allan Agar, appointed as caretaker after that sacking, will remain as Reilly's assistant and stand-in during his absences.

The national coaching role became a full-time position for the first time in 1990, when the future workload included two overseas tours, a series against Australia in England and the prospect of a World Cup final.

Although the timetable over the next couple of years is undeniably less crowded, the return to a part-time coach, coming just a week after nine redundancies at the Rugby League, smacks of cost-cutting. In fact, the League says it will save little money. A bigger factor will have been the difficulty in finding a suitably qualified successor if Reilly had been denied permission to combine national with club coaching.

Two wins under Agar have lifted Halifax to fourth in the table and Reilly's realistic aim for this season is to consolidate that position. 'But if we are going to compete with Wigan, St Helens and Leeds we will have to explore the market,' he said. 'There is good support for the club and the directors are very enthusiastic and want success.'

Reilly's first match in charge will be at the First Division leaders, St Helens, next Friday.

Jonathan Davies will captain Wales in the World Sevens in Sydney on the first weekend in February. The rest of the team will be named today, but, after long negotiations over the implications for the Championship fixtures that weekend, the way has been cleared for a full-strength line-up. Davies will be joined by his three Widnes team-mates - Paul Moriarty, John Devereux and Adrian Hadley. Widnes' match against Hull on 7 February will now be postponed.