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Ian Millward
on Hanley, coaching and the Saints' board's support
 real 28k

Monday, 13 March, 2000, 14:33 GMT
Saints confirm Hanley successor

On his own: Millward replaces league legen Ellery Hanley
Super League champions St Helens have confirmed Ian Millward as their new coach.

The Australian coach replaces Ellery Hanley, who was sacked over the weekend for "breach of contract".

Millward, the former coach of nearby Leigh, was unveiled at a news conference at Saints' Knowsley Road ground.

"My job is to produce a harmonious atmosphere. I'm not involved with the past, I'm about the future," he said.

"It was a tough decision because Leigh have got great aspirations to join Super League but St Helens are a big player in the world of rugby league and it's a good opportunity for me."

The former Illawarra assistant coach took over at Leigh in September 1998 and took them to fourth in the Northern Ford Premiership last season.

Ellery Hanley factfile
1984: Great Britain debut
1985: Joins Wigan
1987: Most tries in a season (63)
1989: Record third Man of Steel award
1990: Awarded an MBE
1991: World record transfer to Leeds
1994: Appointed GB coach
1995: Resigns and moves to Australia
1998: Appointed Saints coach
1999: St Helens win Grand Final
2000: Sacked by Saints
Hanley was dismissed on Saturday with the club making a short statement but the former Great Britain star having nothing to add.

Club solicitor John Bullough said on behalf of the club: "The contract between St Helens and Ellery Hanley has been terminated forthwith by the board of the club because of fundamental breaches of the contract by Mr Hanley."

Hanley added: "I have no comment to make because I am seeking legal advice."

Speculation had been mounting that Saints were ready to part company with with their controversial boss.

Hanley had a glorious playing career
Hanley may be one of the legendary players of the modern game, but he has suffered a torrid time since succeeding Shaun McRae in August 1998.

On the pitch Hanley had a successful start to his career as Saints coach, guiding them to the Super League title with an 8-6 victory over Bradford Bulls in the Grand Final.

His club has made a disappointing start to the new season, however.

The side crashed 44-6 to Australian champions Melbourne Storm in January's World Club Challenge, were knocked out of the Challenge Cup by Leeds and went down 32-10 at home to Bradford in their opening Super League fixture last week.

But it is off the pitch where the former Great Britain coach has really struggled.

The Saints board had become increasingly disillusioned with the methods of their coach.

Hanley reportedly did not speak with the club's football executive Eric Hughes and he had an uneasy relationship with the media - a situation that dates back to his playing days.

Hanley has had a stormy 18 months in charge of the club:
  • He had a public row with the club's football executive Eric Hughes over the signing of Australian forward Phil Adamson
  • He angered club directors by labelling them dinosaurs and accusing them of ignorance and rudeness over the failure to sign Martin Moana from Halifax
  • He upset the club at a pre-season sponsors evening with further claims of dissatisfaction
  • He incurred the wrath of the Super League hierarchy by refusing to attend the season's launch.
Hanley was suspended last July for his initial outburst - but he was re-instated eight days later after issuing an apology.

Last season Millward was named NFP Coach of the Year after steering the club to fourth spot and signed off his duties at Leigh on Sunday with a resounding 68-6 win over Lancashire Lynx.

Millward, 39, took up coaching after his playing career came to a sudden halt in 1983 when he broke his neck.
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See also:

10 Mar 00 | Rugby League
Hanley's job 'on the line'
01 Mar 00 | Rugby League
Hanley in hot water over absence
21 Jul 99 | Rugby League
All is well, insists Hanley
12 Jul 99 | Rugby League
Hanley suspended by Saints
28 Aug 98 | Rugby League
Hanley lands Saints job
09 Oct 99 | Rugby League
Saints hang on for final glory
31 Jul 99 | Rugby League
Hanley hails runaway Saints
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