Just days after it was revealed Shane Warne might be a contender for a coaching role with the English cricket team, the deposed coach of the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Shaun McRae, is apparently the favourite to take over as head coach of the English rugby league team.

Readers who followed the ordinary season the Russell Crowe/Peter Holmes a Court-owned Rabbitohs had in 2006 might be wondering just how desperate English sport has become.

In 2006 the Rabbitohs finished stone motherless last in the NRL premiership – 3 wins 24 losses! As a result, McRae was replaced as coach by the successful stand-in coach of the Parramatta Eels, Jason Taylor.

But an appointment to coach the England national team is not as odd as those results might make it appear.

McRae coached with considerable success in England before returning to the Rabbitohs. He coached St Helens to the league and cup double in 1996. He survived as head coach for the first nine seasons of UK super league, coaching at Gateshead and Hull after St Helens.

The attraction McRae offers English rugby league is that he is available immediately – he has no NRL or other coaching role in 2007 – and he can fulfil their intention to appoint a full-time coach.

If he is appointed, he won’t be the first Australian to fill the role. David Waite coached England – or Great Britain as they insist on calling the team – between 2000 and 2005.

If McRae does end up back in the Old Dart, for the sake of international rugby league, let’s hope he gives more value to his adopted home than the Gold Coast Titans’ star signing from England, Brian Carney, gave his new club.

Carney arrived on the Gold Coast on Sunday night to take up his lucrative contract, attended one training session on Monday, and flew back to Britain on Monday night, deciding it was time to retire and take up full-time university study!

Peter Fray

Inoculate yourself against the spin

Get Crikey for just $1 a week and support our journalists’ important work of uncovering the hypocrisies that infest our corridors of power.

If you haven’t joined us yet, subscribe today to get your first 12 weeks for $12 and get the journalism you need to navigate the spin.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW