Rugby League: Mr Magic Ready for GB Reappearing Act; EXCLUSIVE

Article excerpt

Byline: Trevor BAXTER

ELLERY HANLEY has been honing his squash skills and learning to play the piano since a last ill-fated involvement with rugby league.

But could 'Mr Magic' be about to make a spectacular return to the sport? Hanley, who celebrates his 46th birthday on Tuesday, has been tipped as the next Great Britain coach - a post he once held.

An announcement on Brian Noble's successor is expected in the next few weeks.

And in a rare interview, Hanley tells Mirror Sport what is required to put the 'great' back in Great Britain.

Unsurprisingly, the former Lions legend has all the credentials he believes are needed for the job.

"First and foremost I think it's right they give the post to a British coach," says Hanley, capped 34 times by his country.

"He must have achieved for both club and country," adds the no-nonsense Yorkshireman who won virtually every honour in the game at Bradford, Wigan, Leeds, Western Suburbs and Balmain. "He mustn't have any club loyalties. And we've got to have a fulltime appointment."

So, are you the right man for the role? "It's not for me to speculate - that's your job," he laughs.

"But I'm flattered and honoured that I have been mentioned."

Certainly, the names in the frame are becoming fewer.

Hanley's former Wigan team-mate Shaun Edwards was approached by Red Hall bosses. But as first revealed in Mirror Sport he declined to be considered for family reasons.

Salford's Karl Harrison has been heavily backed but doesn't believe the job warrants a full-time appointment while Aussie Shaun McRae has made no secret of his desire to take charge.

Now, Leeds Rhinos boss Tony Smith, out of contract at the end of the season at Headingley, has been linked to the post.

However, Hanley insists: "I think the RFL have got it right by going for a British coach.

"What they need is a strong character who the players respect. And I'm convinced that the new man should be full-time, no question.

"What has happened in the past is a particular coach has taken the team to a certain level and not been able to progress it. A part-time coach has been attached to a particular club.

"That can lead to a biased view about certain players, though they may not actually realise they are wearing their club cloth! …