Former Huddersfield Giants captain McNamara to be unveiled as England coach
FORMER Giants captain and Bradford Bulls boss Steve McNamara is expected to be unveiled as the new England coach later today.
The Rugby Football League are set to end weeks of speculation over the successor to Tony Smith after announcing a press conference near Manchester.
The 38-year-old McNamara, who was Smith’s assistant for the last three years, was always the logical choice but Richard Agar (Hull), Brian McDermott (Harlequins) and former Wigan boss Denis Betts, now on the backroom staff at rugby union side Gloucester, were also thought to be in the frame.
McNamara, who won four caps as a player with Great Britain, is set to see out his contract with the Bulls, combining both roles before going full-time with England from October in time for the Four Nations series in Australia and New Zealand.
That was the route taken by Smith, who was initially part-time with Great Britain in 2007 before completing his commitments with Leeds. He stepped down at the end of his contract in November for personal reasons.
Bradford were initially reluctant with the RFL’s job-sharing proposal, claiming that McNamara’s predecessor at Odsal, Brian Noble, had been distracted from his club responsibilities when he took on the Great Britain job in 2004.
But, with no obvious successor in place, the Bulls have come round to the compromise, which gives McNamara the chance to continue the improvement of his side this season and gives the directors six months to find a replacement.
Chairman Peter Hood said the board had planned to discuss McNamara’s future next Monday but today appeared resigned to having their decision made for them.
"The interests of the club will always come first," he said.
"I am absolutely confident that Steve McNamara will remain in charge of Bradford until the end of the season."
Two former Bradford players, McDermott and James Lowes, who is currently assistant to Smith at Warrington, will be seen as front-runners for the Odsal vacancy.
McNamara will be given the chance to take England into the 2013 World Cup but his first job as national coach will be the international against France on June 12.
It is thought the RFL may appoint veteran Australian coach Brian Smith as McNamara’s mentor, replicating the role adopted by Wayne Bennett in New Zealand’s 2008 World Cup triumph.
Smith was McNamara’s coach at Hull and also played under him at Bradford in the inaugural Super League season of 1996.