Harris confirmed as Crusaders head coach

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CRUSADERS have confirmed the appointment of Iestyn Harris as head coach following Brian Noble's resignation.

Former Great Britain boss Noble announced last night he is to step down after just one season in charge of the Wrexham-based outfit.

The Engage Super League team have moved quickly to promote Noble's number two Harris, while Noble himself has been offered a "behind-the-scenes role".

Harris is a legendary figure in Super League from his time as a player and has coached the Welsh national side for two years, winning the European Cup twice, as well as Featherstone Rovers last year before joining Noble's team.

"I'm really excited about the challenge ahead of me and for the Crusaders," he said.

"I wouldn't have taken up this role if I didn't believe the club was going places. The things that have been done over the last 12 months with Brian in charge have been really good and we have to keep that progression going.

"I will be looking to improve the side for the 2011 Engage Super League season so we can build on our play-off position that we earned last season.

"This is a club with huge potential. The players showed last year what they are capable of and we have some fantastic young talent here at the Crusaders.

"The fans are brilliant and I know everyone can't wait for Super League to get started again."

Harris added: "The club's ambitions are to be a top-four side in Super League. It will be hard work to achieve this and there's still a lot that needs to be done.

"It will be a big challenge but it's one that I'm going to enjoy. Together as a club we can ensure the future of Super League in Wales and I'm looking forward to getting started."

The future of former Bradford, Wigan and Great Britain boss Noble has been the subject of speculation since Crusaders' Super League season ended eight weeks ago.

Noble, 49, has been linked with the post of assistant coach at Australian club Penrith Panthers.

Explaining his decision, he said: "After an exciting 12 months at the Crusaders in which we achieved more than most were expecting in reaching the play-offs, I feel now is the right time for me to move aside and take on a new challenge.

"I am delighted for Iestyn Harris who will be taking over the reins as head coach and I wish him and the Crusaders every success.

"I'd like to thank all the Crusaders supporters. They have been brilliant since day one and they've shown beyond a doubt that there is a real appetite for rugby league in Wales."

Crusaders chairman Ian Roberts admitted Harris was the natural choice as Noble's successor.

He said: "We are delighted to appoint Iestyn into the position of head coach.

"We feel that he has done an outstanding job at the Crusaders so far, especially his involvement in the development of young Welsh players both for club and country.

"His heart is with rugby league in Wales, he is 100 per cent focused on the present and future of the game here at Crusaders and Wales as a whole and he is a consummate professional.

"We are certain that he is going to continue the good work that Brian Noble has started here and we can't wait for 2011. Iestyn has shown, both with Crusaders and Wales, what a talented coach he is. It's an exciting time."

See full story in the Leader

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