Rugby League: Simms takes over at Halifax: Reilly's successor as coach sorry to leave Leigh

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The Independent Online
STEVE SIMMS has been confirmed as Halifax's new coach and will take charge for the first time against Wakefield on Sunday. Simms, the former South Sydney reserve grade coach who has been at the helm at Leigh since November 1992, has beaten a strong field of candidates from Britain and overseas for the job.

He succeeds Malcolm Reilly, the former Great Britain coach who is leaving for the Newcastle Knights, but who will stay at Thrum Hall in an advisory capacity until the end of the month.

Reilly expressed a willingness when he was appointed by Newcastle to stay with Halifax until November, but he has been a target of abuse from a section of the crowd.

Simms said yesterday that he was sorry to be leaving a club into which he has put so much work. 'But the Halifax job is a great opportunity. They are a good club with good players,' he said. Leigh have good players in the making themselves, largely thanks to Simms.

The fear now must be that several of those young players will leave a club fighting a constant battle for solvency. Wigan have already shown an interest in their hooker, Paul Rowley, and the club's other Academy internationals, Scott Martin and Simon Baldwin, could also be in demand, not least from Simms and Halifax.

Simms' assistant, Steve Herbert, takes over at Leigh for the moment. Other candidates for the permanent position could include Dennis Ramsdale, who did the job briefly before Simms' arrival and resigned as coach of Barrow last week, and Leigh's most distinguished player of recent years, John Woods, who is now player-coach with the local

amateurs, Leigh Miners.

Kelvin Skerrett is still hoping to be fit in time for the first Test against Australia on 22 October, despite fracturing his cheekbone against Leeds on Friday. In three weeks' time he sees a specialist who could give him the all-clear to play, but his Wigan team-mate Barrie- Jon Mather, has been warned against an early comeback after a shoulder operation this summer.

Yorkshire Television are to show Australia's club matches in the county, plus the game against Great Britain Under-21s in Gateshead, making their tour this autumn the most comprehensively covered to date.