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The coaches for England A, Ireland, Wales and Scotland have been named for this years European Nations Cup. The European Nations Cup will see six European Rugby League sides battle it out for the honours to call themselves, European Champions.
The tournament, is an expansion on the European Championship which use to be a tri-series concept between Wales, England and France, which was last played in 1996. All four British Isle based nations have the advantage of having Super League coaching staff in their line ups, but Wales and England A are the only two which retain the same key coach as last year.
England A will be headed by John Kear, who was coach of England in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup, and as well coached England A last year in their tour of the Pacific Isles. He is currently an assistant coach to Hull FC Super League club, and has a long list of coaching experience, also coaching Sheffield, Huddersfield-Sheffield and being part of the coaching panel of Leeds. Kear will be joined by current Warrington coach, Paul Cullen, who has been having a very successful run with the Wires, putting them into the top 6 after last year they only just struggled to avoid relegation.
Wales, will have the very skilful and tactically smart, Neil Kelly. Kelly is possibly Wales? biggest asset, being passionate for the nation, and being involved in the coaching setup of the Celtic side since the 2000 Rugby League World Cup, he knows the squad well, and will be pushing for a big Welsh performance. Kelly will be joined by St Helen?s Jon Sharpe.
Daryl Powell leads Ireland?s coaching line up, and will certainly bring a wealth of experience to the nation. The ?Celts? will possibly have the second largest player list to draw from in the tournament thanks to the Grandparent rule, and Powell is the style of coach which can exploit that. His success with Leeds this year, could mean that 2003 is Powell?s year?then again there was the Challenge Cup. The very talented Andy Kelly will be on Powell?s side to lead Ireland?s fortunes.
Scotland have brought out a surprise packet however for the tournament. Mike Gregory, the coach who was able to get the England Schoolboys to defeat the Australian?s not just once, but twice. His brilliant run last year, plus his experience from being part of the coaching panel at Wigan could certainly turn Scotland into a dark horse of the tournament. Their players depth however could be a major factor against them though. David Lyon will join Gregory on the coaching staff.
England A Head coach: John Kear (Hull) Assistant coach: Paul Cullen (Warrington)
Scotland Head coach: Mike Gregory (Wigan) Assistant coach: David Lyon (St Helens)
Wales Head coach: Neil Kelly (Widnes) Assistant coach: Jon Sharpe (St Helens)
Ireland Head coach: Daryl Powell (Leeds) Assistant coach: Andy Kelly (Featherstone)