Harris given Welsh coaching role

Speculation surrounding Iestyn Harris‘s future at Bradford has intensified with the news that he will be taking on a coaching role with Wales.nnThe stand-off, who turns 32 next week, is in the final year of his contract at Bradford, and has been heavily linked with a move away from Odsal at the end of the season.nnHarris’s new role as Wales‘ assistant coach has led to widespread belief that he will join up with the Celtic Crusaders next season, with an extension to his stay at the Grattan Stadium seeming more and more unlikely.nnOldham-born Harris, who has appeared for Wales in both codes of rugby courtesy of a Welsh grandfather, looks increasingly likely to sign for the side from South Wales, although much still depends on them obtaining a Super League licence for the 2009 season.nnHarris has 19 international rugby league caps and 25 international rugby union caps to his name, and holds the Welsh rugby league points-scoring record with 165. He should prove a popular choice with Welsh rugby supporters.nnThe Welsh Rugby League announced today that they have appointed Australian John Dixon as the man to replace Martin Hall as head coach, with Harris and Hull KR head coach Justin Morgan picked as Dixon’s two assistants.nnFurthermore, Celtic Crusaders’ assistant coach and football manager Anthony Seibold has been appointed as the Welsh Strength and Conditioning Coach, while John Devereux will remain in his current role as Team Manager.nnDixon, head coach of Celtic Crusaders since their launch in 2005, will combine his current club responsibilities with his new duties with Wales. He will face his first test in the friendly against England in Doncaster on October 10, England‘s final warm-up game before the World Cup.nnPart of Dixon’s role as Wales head coach will be to identify and develop future Welsh international coaches, and he believes the future is bright for Welsh rugby league.nn”I’m delighted to be taking on the role as the Welsh national coach. There are great developments going on in the game in Wales right now,” he said.nn”Wales has had many past glories based on elite players but what I see for Wales now is rugby league growing at grass roots level. We will hopefully have a Super League licence with Celtic Crusaders which creates a pathway for young Welsh players. The RFL’s decision to have the home nations represented by England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales on a permanent basis creates the opportunity to develop a Welsh identification that we can promote and take forward,” he added.nnDixon also believes he has the perfect back-up team behind him, and was thoroughly looking forward to working alongside them.nn”I’m delighted to be working with the best possible coaching staff in Iestyn Harris, Justin Morgan, John Devereux and Anthony Seibold. They are all quality personnel and the experience that they will bring to the national side is immense,” he said.nn”We’re looking forward to taking on England in October and we understand the challenge that confronts us. The Welsh Rugby League are planning for the long-term success of the international team. Recent developments around performance pathways and junior programmes give us great optimism for the future of both the Welsh National team and the Celtic Crusaders who we all hope will soon be in the Super League,” he explained.nnDixon is the man responsible for the Bridgend-based side’s rise in rugby league’s lower tiers, and he took them to the National League Two championship in 2007.nnHe is the reason the club were able to apply for a Super League license for next season, and has been tipped as the right man for the job by Wales Rugby League executive chairman Mark Rowley.nn”We believe that John is the perfect man for the job. He is a first-class coach and his dedication to developing young Welsh talent is close to his heart. John also has the massive advantage of being based in Wales,” said Rowley.nn”With the 2013 World Cup and beyond in mind, and with John already committed to the Crusaders up until the end of 2011 at the very least, his is committed to developing young Welsh players, born in Wales, to play for Wales,” he added.nnJustin Morgan should also prove a good choice. He represented Wales from 2000-03, picking up 10 international caps along the way. He made a name for himself with French outfit Toulouse Olympique in 2005, taking them to the Challenge Cup Semi-finals.nnHe then took Hull KR to Super League in 2006, and has done a solid job at Craven Park ever since, so it’s no wonder he was scouted for the assistant’s job.

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