Harris named as new Wales coach

Dual-code international Iestyn Harris has been named as the new Wales head coach for their four internationals this autumn.

The former Leeds, Bradford and Warrington stand-off replaces John Dixon, who left his post after taking the coaches job at Australian side Redcliffe Dolphins.

Assisting Harris will be Clive Griffiths, who was the Wales coach between 1991 and 2000, leading them to 15 wins in 25 games, including two World Cup semi-final appearances and a European Championship trophy.

Wales Rugby League Executive Chairman Mark Rowley has said: “We are very pleased with our structure both on and off the field for 2009 and we are looking forward to a successful international series. We’re delighted that Iestyn Harris has accepted the role of head coach. He has the enthusiasm and passion for the development of rugby league in Wales and it is these elements that will help him be a success.

“We are also delighted that someone of the calibre of Clive Griffiths is assisting him. While Clive hasn’t been involved with the full Wales set-up since 2000, he’s not been out of rugby league and successfully led the Wales Students side to the World Cup semi-finals last year.

“We are sorry to see John Dixon leave and we wish him well as he returns to a new coaching position in Australia. Over the last four years, John has laid the foundations for the success of rugby league in Wales and for that we owe him a great deal of thanks.”

Iestyn Harris has said: “I am really excited by the opportunity to help Wales Rugby League develop over the coming years and to bring through the young players who are showing such talent. I am very ambitious as a coach and Wales Rugby League has always been very close to my heart so I will be taking the role very seriously. Clive (Griffiths) has been a big influence on my career over the last 15-20 years and he will bring a lot of experience and act as a father-figure to the players.”

Born in Oldham, Harris is currently playing in the Championship for Featherstone Rovers, but is expected to move to Celtic Crusaders for the 2010 season.

He won the Man of Steel in 1998 before being made captain of Leeds at the age of 21, leading them to the 1999 Challenge Cup.

Following the 2000 World Cup, Harris made a £1.5m switch to Cardiff Rugby Union and Wales and played in the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup.

He returned to rugby league in 2004 and was part of the Wales side that failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup.

Wales face England at Brewery Field on October 17th, before facing Serbia (25th October) and Ireland (1st November) in their European Cup campaign.

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