Crusade continues - Harris
Iestyn Harris admits Engage Super League came too soon for the Crusaders RL but believes there is still a big future for rugby league in Wales.
The Wrexham club bowed out of Super League last night with a 42-10 defeat at Wigan Warriors, a result that, coupled with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ 26-14 win over Bradford Bulls, meant the Welsh club collected the wooden spoon in two of their three years in the top flight.
The sombre mood in the Crusaders camp was in sharp contrast to that 12 months earlier when the club celebrated a first appearance in the play-offs, but the decision of the owners in July to withdraw their application for a new Super League licence pulled the rug from underneath Harris and his team.
Harris, who moved with the club from Bridgend to Wrexham in 2009 and succeeded Brian Noble as head coach at the start of this season, is now set to join Wigan’s backroom staff and has spent the last six weeks trying to fix up moves for his players.
If Crusaders get the go-ahead to enter the part-time Championship in 2012, it will be with a different coach and, almost certainly, an entirely new set of players but Harris is hopeful that Super League will one day return to the Principality.
“There has got to be a lot of work done behind the scenes,” he said. “There’s an argument to say it was fast-tracked a little bit too soon.
“There’s a really good structure in place in south Wales at the moment, there are some very good kids playing the game of rugby league and there’s some excitement about the game in south Wales.
“It was our job to try to build that excitement in the north of Wales with the kids and we had just started that process. It’s important we don’t lose that.
“We have to make sure there is a pathway into Super League for the youngsters and a long-term vision to have a Super League club again.
“When that will be, we’re not sure but certainly there are a lot of quality kids playing the game.” Two other outgoing coaches experienced contrasting fortunes last night.
Kear was able to savour a victory in his last match in charge of Wakefield while his successor at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium, Richard Agar, experienced a painful defeat in his last home game with Hull FC, who were beaten 34-12 by Warrington Wolves.
Hull will now be away to either Leeds Rhinos or Catalan Dragons in next week’s play-offs while Warrington’s first top-of-the table finish since 1973 earns them a home tie against Huddersfield Giants.
The League Leaders’ Shield was at the DW Stadium last night, ready to be presented to the Warriors in case the Wolves slipped up, but will now be handed to Tony Smith’s team after their game at the Halliwell Jones Stadium next Friday.
Wigan’s second-place finish means they will meet St Helens at the DW Stadium in a repeat of last year’s Grand Final.