Rugby League: St Helens draw up short-list of three British coaches: Larder, Fairbairn and Griffiths placed in the frame for McClennan's job although internal appointment still possible

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The Independent Online
ST HELENS have drawn up a short-list of three British coaches for the post vacated by Mike McClennan last week. 'The new coach will be from this country,' said the club's chairman, Eric Ashton, after a board meeting to discuss the appointment.

'There will be an announcement as soon as possible,' Ashton added, 'because the team needs someone in permanent charge.'

Narrowing the choice down to British coaches hints at a field which could include Widnes's Phil Larder, George Fairbairn of Hull KR and Clive Griffiths, currently assistant coach at Warrington.

An internal appointment, with the former Great Britain player, Eric Hughes, the prime candidate, cannot be ruled out either.

'It would be nice to have someone in place in time for the Boxing Day match against Wigan, but we cannot put a time limit on it,' Ashton said.

Peter Tunks, who is not without admirers at St Helens, has returned from a mid-season trip to his native Australia with the signature of the utility back, Glen Liddiard.

Liddiard can play virtually anywhere in the backs and will replace Se'e Solomona, who will be out for the rest of the season after breaking his arm, on Oldham's overseas quota.

This will represent a return to Watersheddings for Liddiard, who, as a 16-year-old, played in the Oldham side that reached the semi- finals of the Challenge Cup in 1986.

Now 23, Liddiard has since played for Parramatta and, most recently, North Sydney. He will arrive in England as soon as his work permit is finalised.

Tunks has also completed the exchange deal which brings Rochdale's David Chrimes and Adrian Belle to Oldham, with the former Orrell and Lancashire stand-off, Martin Strett, moving in the opposite direction.

Andy Gregory's inspiring performances for Salford will bring him face to face with the club where he enjoyed his best days in the semi- finals of the Regal Trophy next month.

Salford have home advantage when they meet Wigan on 8 January. Apart from the encouragement of a seven-match winning run - six of them since the signing of Gregory from Leeds for what now seems a laughable pounds 10,000 - Salford will remember beating Wigan at The Willows in the same competition two years ago. A Lancashire-Yorkshire final is guaranteed, because the first semi-final on New Year's Day pairs Bradford Northern and Castleford at Odsal.

Chris Rudd, the Warrington centre, will miss the holiday programme after damaging ankle ligaments against Wigan on Saturday. Rudd will be out of the league-leaders' line-up for a fortnight, ruling him out of the match against Widnes on Boxing Day and the return against Wigan on 2 January.

REGAL TROPHY SEMI-FINALS: Bradford Northern v Castleford (Saturday, 1 January, 3.0); Salford v Wigan (Saturday, 8 January, 2.15).