Rugby League: St Helens deny Hanley rumours

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By Dave Hadfield

ST HELENS have categorically denied that they are about to appoint Ellery Hanley as their new coach. Hanley, whose transfer fees to Wigan and Leeds twice broke the world record during his playing career, has been linked with a pounds 125,000-a-year deal to coach Saints, who have decided not to retain Shaun McRae next season.

"It's a load of rubbish," the club's chairman, Tom Ellard, insisted. "We are no further down the road to appointing a coach than we were this time last week."

Saints admit that they have spoken to the 37-year-old former Great Britain coach. "But that is just one of a number of options and the only person we have spoken to seriously is John Kear, who has decided to stay with Sheffield," Ellard said. "We will not be stampeded into a decision. Our future may lie with an overseas coach."

If so, the Cronulla and Australia coach, John Lang, would be the first choice, although many believe that stories linking Saints with Wes Patten, Hanley's protege at Balmain, strengthen the Hanley theory. Saints are likely to be without Tommy Martyn, who has an ankle injury, for their trip to Hull today. Karle Hammond stands by to fill in at stand-off. Vila Matautia, who has signed a new contract, is back after suspension.

The new Gateshead club now hopes to announce its coach next Wednesday, with McRae the clear favourite.

Warrington's injury problems, never far from their minds this season, have intensified for today's visit to Castleford. Adam Doyle and the horribly unlucky Mark Hilton are out injured for the rest of the season, while Toa Kohe-Love has gone back to New Zealand following the death of his father.

Their coach, Darryl Van de Velde, will again have to raid his Academy team and Mike Wainwright is likely to switch from the pack to stand-off.

Castleford, who switched the match from Sunday because of a local carnival which has now been cancelled, will be looking with interest at the support for a Saturday fixture, as there are some at the club who favour regular Saturday night kick-offs.

Contrary to all pre-season expectations, tomorrow's match at Halifax sees Bradford in most need of the points. Defeat at St Helens last week means they could still be caught by the chasing pack. They are hoping to have Nathan McAvoy and Bernard Dwyer back after injury and that Tahi Reihana and Matt Calland recover from knocks.

For Halifax, completing a double over their neighbours will come close to securing them a top-three finish and the advantages that confers in the new play-off format.

Bradford, who have described Henry Paul's wage demands as being too high for them, are bring linked with South Sydney's Julian O'Neill.

Terry Matterson, who is anxious to talk to the London Broncos about extending his stay for another year, is back in their side against Huddersfield after a calf injury. There is, however, no sign of Martin Offiah's return. His ankle ligament problem is refusing to clear up and the Broncos have put his reappearance on hold indefinitely.

The bottom club, Huddersfield, who are being linked in Australia with a possible move for the former Great Britain coach, Malcolm Reilly, take their new signing from St Helens, Bobbie Goulding, on an away trip for the first time.