Rugby League: West resigns at Wigan after refusing new role

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The Independent Online
The Wigan coach,Graeme West, has quit after more than 14 years with the club after refusing to move upstairs and become team manager. West, who was appointed coach in May 1994, was given an ultimatum by the board on Saturday to step aside or lose his coaching job.

"I told them I didn't want the manager's job so that is the end of it," said West, who added that he would be clearing his desk at Central Park today, when Wigan are expected to make an official announcement.

West, a New Zealand international who was one of the club's best-ever signings when he joined them as a player in 1982, served as assistant under John Monie and John Dorahy. He achieved immediate success when he replaced the sacked Dorahy, leading Wigan to a clean sweep of the major trophies in 1994-5 - something that none of his predecessors could better.

Wigan also won the shortened Centenary Championship in 1995-96, but last season saw St Helens deprive them of both the Challenge Cup and the inaugural Super League Championship.

Last week, Wigan were knocked out of the Challenge Cup by St Helens, despite playing against 12 men for half of the match.

West was first approached about moving out of the coaching seat two weeks ago, but made it clear that he did not want the management role recently vacated by Joe Lydon. "Joe left because of his frustration at not being able to manage and I feel I have already had enough frustration as coach," West said. "I have been accused of being negative when I have complained about the strength of the squad so I have shut up about it, but I have found it frustrating."

Wigan have lost a series of star players, including Denis Betts, Phil Clarke and Martin Offiah, without being able, through straitened financial circumstances, to replace them with others of comparable ability.

Va'aiga Tuigamala is expected to leave for Newcastle rugby union club this week, which will leave the team further weakened.

"I'm disappointed to be going, but the world keeps spinning round," West said. "I've had some great times at Wigan as well as some disappointing times."

He added that he would be interested in another coaching job in Britain, "but only if I can be in control of my own destiny."

The Wigan chairman, Jack Robinson, would neither confirm nor deny the changes last night