Rugby League: Veivers of verve

Dave Hadfield says the Huddersfield caretaker coach craves the permanent job
Click to follow
TWO coaches in limbo will exchange pleasantries when Huddersfield visit St Helens this afternoon. For Phil Veivers, Huddersfield's caretaker coach since the sacking of Garry Schofield two weeks ago, it will be like coming home. He had 12 seasons at Knowsley Road until Shaun McRae let him leave in 1996.

Now it is McRae who is on his way out, serving out his time after being told by the board that they do not want him next season. To add an extra twist to the plot, it is quite possible that he will be Huddersfield's eventual choice as Schofield's permanent successor.

"Shaun's words to me were, `You got too slow'," Veivers recalled. "You don't like leaving a place that you've been at for 12 years, but I've no axe to grind against Shaun or the fans. It was just a couple of the hierarchy I wasn't too happy with." Veivers has been told by Huddersfield that there has been no formal approach to McRae over the coaching role, but he knows that the club is looking to make an external appointment. Veivers has told them that he wants to keep the job and can only try to prove his credentials in whatever time is available to him. "I've heard all the rumours, all the names flying around. All I can do is get on with the job. I've got the backing of the players, which is the main thing," Veivers said.

But the task of putting a few morale-boosting victories together has not been made any easier by the loss this week of his best forward, Neil Harmon. The Great Britain prop was due to leave at the end of this season under the Bosman ruling, but Huddersfield accepted a fee from Bradford to let him go now. "From a business point of view, it makes plenty of sense," Veivers said. "But you don't want to lose the guy who's been the most consistent all year for you."

With two other props, Jon Neill and Nick Fozzard, also out with long- term injuries, Veivers moves Jeff Wittenberg into the front row and brings in Basil Richards.

It has not exactly been a quiet, easy week for Saints either. Apart from the well flagged-up decision by the board not to renew McRae's contract, there has also been another episode in the sorry soap opera into which Bobbie Goulding's career is descending.

If Goulding did, as has been alleged, racially abuse a team-mate after the defeat by Wigan in Swansea, he may finally have given St Helens the rope with which to hang him. There are the potential grounds there to tear up his contract and, given his limited usefulness on the field in recent weeks, Saints will be sorely tempted to cut their losses and do just that. The last thing their new coach will need is to inherit a player who has become an impossible liability.

If there was such a thing as relegation and his mate Schofield was still in charge, Goulding would be at Huddersfield by now. As it is, it is hard to see where he can go, although a new round of "Goulding to play rugby union" stories can be expected any day.