RUGBY LEAGUE; Testing Oakwell return for Kelly

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The Independent Online
WAKEFIELD TRINITY'S coach, Andy Kelly, is one of the select band to have played rugby league at Barnsley's Oakwell ground. Nine years ago, Kelly was in the Wakefield side that went there to play the then nomadic Sheffield Eagles and lost 24-10. The demands of television mean that he will make the return journey there tonight as Trinity take on Super League leaders, St Helens.

"It was one of the first development games in new areas and, apart from the fact that we lost, it was a good experience," Kelly recalled. "The place has changed beyond all recognition now, but it's an excellent rugby league ground. The spectators are very close to the field and it generates the atmosphere that players thrive on."

Trinity are at Oakwell because their own Belle Vue ground, whilst it meets Super League criteria, is not suitable for live TV. The hope is that their own supporters will make the short journey down the M1 and that curious Barnsley people will also feel motivated to take a look at a sport which, Sheffield Eagles notwithstanding, is unfamiliar to broad areas of South Yorkshire.

Kelly will still be without his two main play-makers, the injured Kiwis, Tony Kemp and Willie Poching, with the creative burden falling on Glen Tomlinson and young Paul March.

Barnsley could hardly have more attractive visitors than the unbeaten Saints. "You've got to give credit to Ellery Hanley," Kelly said. "They have looked like the old St Helens in the way they have thrown the ball around, but they've shown in games like the one at Wigan that they can now also be steely in defence."

Salford have had 10 applications for their vacant coaching job, from Britain, Australia and New Zealand, and will not be making an appointment until next week at the earliest.

"There are some very high quality people who have expressed an interest, so we will be looking at who is interested and what their situations are," said the club's chief executive, David Tarry.

One complication in finding a successor to Andy Gregory, who was sacked this week after a losing run of 13 Super League matches, is that overseas candidates could face a 10 week delay for work permits. By then, Salford's situation at the foot of the table could be beyond recall.

John Foran, previously Gregory's assistant, will remain in charge for this Sunday's game at home to the London Broncos. Salford have recognised the overlap between their support and that for Manchester United by moving their kick-off forward to 2pm so that spectators can watch United's Premiership bid after the game.

The former Great Britain captain, Garry Schofield, is extending his contract with Bramley until the end of the season.

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