The Search Is On

For all the talk it seems that the job is near-guaranteed to go to Shaun McRae. The Australian recently quit his job in the backroom with South Sydney Rabbitohs, just in time for the RFL to announce they wanted a full-time coach. Unlike some I don’t think there’s been any conspiracy, although the timing was quite convenient.

McRae, for all the disappointment he suffered as head coach at Souths, showed us what he can do when he was in charge of St Helens, and latterly Hull FC. He has the dual advantage of knowing both the British and Australian games; knowledge of the Australian way of doing things could certainly prove an advantage.

An issue could be made of McRae’s nationality. Would an Australian really be able to do the job at the head of the Lions? Perhaps not – although those who know him credit McRae with the utmost professionalism.

It would be an issue over which the RFL held more control if all the best British candidates didn’t have prior engagements. The natural choice for the job would be Paul Cullen, who has been a sensation at Warrington and has just claimed the Federation Shield in his first season with England. But it hardly seems likely that Cullen will quit the Halliwell-Jones Stadium now with a Wolves side with arguably more potential than any in Super League history.

Karl Harrison has also been named, and he would be another good choice. But, much like Cullen, would he be willing to leave a Salford City Reds side on the cusp of a great future? It seems more probable that Jon Sharp could be prised away from Huddersfield Giants. But, with all due respect to him, is Sharp ready for international rugby?

Whoever ends up with the job – and it certainly looks as though McRae is our man – let’s hope that he can be the man who has it in him to bring success back to British rugby league.  

National League TV Deal Falls Through

It was unfortunate to see that the potential TV deal between British Eurosport and the RFL to show National League games live on Thursday nights has fallen through. The National Leagues may have benefited hugely from seeing games televised, but in the end that wasn’t to be.

It now appears as though the RFL will go back to main broadcast partners Sky Sports to broker a deal with them. To be honest I can’t see Sky broadcasting games live, but what they may do is show extensive highlights of the action; possibly in place of where NRL highlights used to go on Boots ‘n’ All.

That may just benefit that National Leagues just as much. Besides which, it will save National League fans from lengthy away journeys on Thursday evenings.

Up For The Cup

The deal that will see Leeds Metropolitan University take up title sponsorship of the Challenge Cup certainly seems like a good one for rugby league. Assuming – and it is only assumption – that the money up front from Leeds Met won’t be as much as Powergen, or even Kellogs, the deal will pull its own weight in other ways.

The facilities at Carnegie – that’s the university’s sports department – will now be available for both the Great Britain squad and the new full-time referees. With such an excellent department as this, that can only be an advantage. The sport will also benefit from being seen in a historic partnership with an institution of education.

Meanwhile, the Carnegie Challenge Cup draw pitted Leeds Met against Wigan St Judes in what will be an interesting tie. The pick of the round in my opinion will be the clash between Thornhill Trojans and South London Storm – it’s always an occasion when a “new” southern team take on a traditional northern team.

Keep Your Eye On Rugby League

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