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Last Updated: Friday, 5 September, 2003, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
'The Mouth' returns
By Ray French
BBC Sport

Alex Murphy OBE is back at Leigh Centurions.

Not content with three previous coaching spells at the club, the former Great Britain scrum-half has decided to take up the hot seat once again - and at the age of 63.

Before he is even introduced to the crowd before Sunday's National League One clash with Rochdale, the newly-appointed director of football will have his critics and his supporters squaring up behind him.

Alex Murphy during his time as Wigan coach
Murphy enjoyed success at several clubs in the 1970s and 80s
There will be those who insist that - because of his 10-year absence from the game at pitch level - he lacks the technical expertise and modern-day training to steer Leigh to glory.

But Alex's rugby knowledge is vast while his tactical appreciation is sounder than that of most coaches.

There will be many who insist his appointment is an insult to the many young coaches who are now making their way through the varied coaching development programmes in the game.

But, equally, there will be others who will argue that the technical and tactical expertise can be left to his two assistants, Tommy Martyn and Norman Turley, leaving Alex to concentrate on what he does best.

Not for nothing was he known as "Murphy the Mouth" when he was writing his newspaper columns.

It was as a motivator where he reigned supreme. And Leigh will hope that is still the case.

Whether Alex's fourth term of office at Hilton Park - or the Coliseum as the ground is now known - ends in smiles or tears, my former St Helens team-mate will have the last word

The ability to pick up a team off the dressing room floor at half time with the tongue might have been written out of the coaching manuals today.

But Alex will not be afraid to employ his legendary orations in order to add a little 'colour' to any technical or tactical theory which may be failing.

Great Britain's greatest-ever scrum-half may not, after all his years away from the sharp end of the game, be able to add much to a debate on the art of a sliding defence.

But he still might possess his uncanny ability to get players to perform above their normal levels.

If he has, then Leigh's audacious move to help them realise their dream of promotion to Super League next month might just be attainable.

Whether Alex's fourth term of office at Hilton Park - or the Coliseum as the ground is now known - ends in smiles or tears, my former St Helens team-mate will have the last word.

Literally!




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