Demetriou swaps York for Keighley after lure of top job

SURPRISED new Keighley Cougars chief Jason Demetriou has revealed he had an agreement with York City Knights that allowed him to exit if a head coach role emerged elsewhere.

Less than three weeks after joining York as a player/assistant on a 12-month deal from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, and without actually pulling on a shirt, the highly-respected Australian has won the race to take over from Barry Eaton at Cougar Park.

It is a sharp U-turn for Demetriou, 34, whose Super League experience, leadership and class were envisaged as being key elements in promoted York's Championship campaign where the former Wildcats captain was their marquee signing.

However, he told the Yorkshire Post: "When the season finished I was looking for an opportunity to get into coaching.

"I spoke to York about it and had a clause put in my contract saying I'd be able to leave if a head coach job did come up but I never expected this Keighley role to come about as soon as it did or knew whether I'd actually get it.

"I've been honest with York throughout though and they've been fantastic with me.

"It's a bitter sweet moment; I'm disappointed I never got to play for them but I'm really excited by this opportunity with Keighley and the chance to start the next stage of my career," he added.

Demetriou – who will combine his role with playing for the Championship One club – begins work on Tuesday, succeeding Eaton who is heading to Super League as Iestyn Harris's assistant at Crusaders.

"I know Barry from our playing days together at Widnes and I spoke to him before going for the interview," he said.

"I'll be meeting with him soon to go through the squad I'll be coaching, get his views on their capabilities and see some videos of the players while he's told me to give him a call whenever if I need anything,"

Demetriou, who is believed to have beaten off stiff competition including the likes of ex-Barrow coach Dave Clark, will be supported by current Cougars assistants Glenn Barraclough and Matt Bramald.

His career has come full circle as he operated in the second tier of semi-professional rugby with Lancashire Lynx when he first arrived from Sydney in 1999.

Demetriou headed on to Rochdale and Widnes before earning legendary status in seven sterling years at Wakefield.

"I know the differences between full-time and part-time football having experienced it myself and understand about working for a living and playing," he added.

"I'm looking forward to working with some young players who want to make a name for themselves whether it be in the Championships or Super League.

"Hopefully I can help them get to the highest level like I did."

Keighley endured relegation after suffering a nine-point deduction this year for entering administration but Demetriou is confident they can challenge in Championship One.

"They have kept the nucleus of a squad together that was competitive in the Championship last season," he said,

"The goal is to get promoted this time but I'm just focusing on the start, meeting the players and getting off to a good opening in the Northern Rail Cup.

"I need to see what position I'm going to play as well and work out where's best for the team whether that be centre or back-row."