EXCLUSIVE: McRae keen to bow out of Super League era with Cup triumph

HEADING HOME: Shaun McRae, seen above left with Hull FC coach Peter Gentle, is heading back to Australia after a successful time in the Super League era.
HEADING HOME: Shaun McRae, seen above left with Hull FC coach Peter Gentle, is heading back to Australia after a successful time in the Super League era.
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Hull FC director of rugby Shaun ‘Bomber’ McRae last night confirmed he will end his long association with Super League by returning home to Australia at the end of the season.

One of the sport’s most colourful characters, he has been involved in the British game since its inaugural 1996 campaign aside from a brief two-year spell with South Sydney.

McRae, 53, hopes to bow out by overseeing a Tetley’s Challenge Cup final success over Wigan Warriors later this month.

Having inspired St Helens to a league and cup double in 1996, he first joined the East Yorkshire club three years later after the merger with Gateshead Thunder.

The ex-Australia assistant remained until 2004 laying the foundations of a side that lifted the Challenge Cup a year later.

McRae – also a respected pundit on Sky Sports – then headed back to the NRL with Souths before joining Salford City Reds in 2007 and was installed as Hull’s director of rugby two years ago following Adam Pearson’s takeover of the club.

With his wealth of knowledge, insight and contacts, he has proved invaluable for the owner whose primary experience is in football, while McRae has also aided head coach Peter Gentle, who he helped bring to the club.

Overhauling the club’s performance department was one of his main roles and he has also been pivotal in their recruitment drive.

“It’s a decision I’ve thought long and hard about and taken into account the feelings of my wife and family, although I do leave with a very heavy heart,” he said.

“Hull FC has and always will be a very special club for me, not just from my time as coach all those years ago, but more latterly as director of rugby, a role I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and rekindled some old friendships that will be lasting ones.

“I can’t think of a better time to leave the club on the back of a Challenge Cup Final at Wembley, which is reward for everybody’s work over the last couple of years.

Pearson added: “People will always remember Shaun McRae for his commitment to Hull FC during both spells and as a man who helped steady the ship following the turbulent times of the merger with Gateshead.

“He’s certainly been a popular figure with the supporters and the wider rugby league public and on behalf of the club, I must thank him for his contribution to Hull FC and the game.”

n Rhinos triumph, plus Super League previews: Page 21.