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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 January 2007, 10:08 GMT
Sculthorpe gives burnout warning
by Phil Gordos

Paul Sculthorpe
Injuries have blighted Sculthorpe's Lions career
St Helens' Paul Sculthorpe is backing Shaun McRae to be Great Britain coach but insists the Lions need more than a new chief to revive their fortunes.

The Lions won just one of their games in last year's Tri-Nations tournament and Sculthorpe blames fatigue.

"Shaun is a great bloke and is great to work for, he's got good knowledge of the game and he's available," he said.

"But it doesn't matter who is in charge if we're playing 40 games in a season and expected to finish it strongly."

Sculthorpe should have led the Lions on that trip down under to face Australia and New Zealand but missed it because of injury.

606 DEBATE: Are players facing too many games?

"You are not going to get the best out of players unless you cut down the number of games they are being asked to play," said the 29-year-old.

"We've shown we can beat Australia and New Zealand but it is not a level playing field at the moment."

Super League sides play at least 28 games in a season, with more on top if they make the play-offs.

The Challenge Cup can also add another four matches if a team makes it all the way to the final.

It's about winning and finding the right man for the job. It doesn't matter where he comes from

In comparison, NRL clubs play 24 games in a year, plus the play-offs. There is no cup competition down under, but there is the three-game State of Origin Series.

"We play too many games and the RFL needs to cut the number we play if they want Great Britain to do well," added Sculthorpe.

"Until that happens, we will continue to find it hard because the new coach won't have enough access to the players and the players will continue to struggle at the end of a long season."

McRae is the favourite to take charge of Great Britain after the RFL confirmed earlier this week that they wanted to make the position full-time.

The decision effectively ended the two-year reign of Brian Noble, whose main priority is Wigan Warriors.

McRae has already revealed he would like the job, although his nationality has quickly become an issue.

Shaun McRae
McRae has been quick to express his interest in the Lions job

The RFL may have appointed an Australian coach before in David Waite, but rugby league legend Garry Schofield thinks a Briton should be handed the post.

Sculthorpe, who knows McRae well from their time together at Saints, disagrees.

"It's about winning and finding the right man for the job," he said. "It doesn't matter where he comes from."

McRae is currently without a job after quitting as director of rugby at NRL side South Sydney Rabbitohs but is still regarded very highly in Britain.

The 47-year-old guided St Helens to the league and cup double in 1996 and was responsible for signing Sculthorpe from Warrington in a 370,000 deal in 1997.

McRae was the only man to hold the position of head coach throughout the first nine seasons of Super League.

He was at Gateshead for their solitary season in 1999 and spent four years in charge of Hull.

He has also held coaching positions with all three major rugby league-playing nations.

He was with Australia from 1990-94, helped prepare New Zealand for the 1995 World Cup and worked with Andy Goodway for Great Britain in 1997.

Britain's next match is a mid-season international against opponents yet to be determined, while New Zealand are the visitors for a three-match Test series in the autumn.

Saints will not rush Sculthorpe
19 Jan 07 |  St Helens
McRae interested in GB coach role
18 Jan 07 |  International
GB coach change forces Noble out
17 Jan 07 |  International
Sacked McRae stays at Rabbitohs
15 Sep 06 |  International
Sculthorpe will miss Tri-Nations
09 Sep 06 |  International
Sculthorpe out for rest of season
09 Aug 05 |  Super League

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