Hull KR have appointed former captain James Webster as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2016 season.
The Super League club announced the appointment shortly after Friday night’s 30-16 defeat at Widnes, which was overseen by caretaker boss Willie Poching in the wake of Chris Chester’s sacking last month.
Webster, who was also previously head coach of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats before taking up a role at the new City of Hull Academy, will retain Poching and David Hodgson as his assistant coaches for the rest of the campaign.
Hull KR chairman Neil Hudgell said: “We are delighted to welcome James back to the club. He’s been around this place on and off since 2005, he’s popular here and he knows what the club is about.
“He’s a smart coach with great technical skills, who cut his teeth last year in Super League in quite trying circumstances. We believe James has all the qualities needed to kick-start some life into our season and also begin to implement plans for 2017 and beyond when he will become an integral part of the back room working under our new head coach.”
Hudgell had indicated earlier this week that the club were looking to make an appointment to the end of the season to tide them over until their favoured choice becomes available.
Webster will take charge of the first-team squad with immediate effect, with the club then set to confirm the appointment of a new head coach for 2017 “in due course”.
Hull KR head of rugby Jamie Peacock said: “The decision to stand down Chris Chester was not easy or taken lightly, however as a club we intend to make a ‘breakthrough’ in Super League and unfortunately in order to do this one of the inevitable consequences is that there will be a number of ‘break-frees’ along the way.
“Going forward James will take up the position of interim head coach for the remainder of 2016. There are a number of reasons for this choice.
“Firstly, as James has captained the club, he fully understands that Hull Kingston Rovers is a hard-working, humble community club that regularly punches above its weight and that the performances of the team should represent that.
“Secondly, James’ core assets are his outstanding technical and tactical knowledge. It is my belief that these properties will perfectly complement the staff and current playing group. With the significant financial backing of the club’s owners, James has all the tools at his disposal to see an immediate upturn in the club’s fortunes.
“We will confirm who the head coach of Hull Kingston Rovers will be for 2017 and beyond in due course. The start date for the new head coach will be at the beginning of pre-season as it’s my firm belief that the most profound impact a head coach can have on a group of players is during these three months of preparation in which he can firmly embed his ethos, principles and systems into the squad.”
Webster, who enjoyed a successful spell as player-coach during his first season with the club in 2005, said: “I’m really excited about coming back to Hull Kingston Rovers and I’m honoured to be offered this opportunity by Neil, Jamie and the board of directors.
“The club holds a special place in my heart and everybody connected to Hull KR has been great with me over the years. It’s a fantastic club with great people and brilliant supporters and I’m looking forward to hopefully playing my part in turning the fortunes of the club around.
“There is some real quality within the playing group here and it will be my job, alongside Willie and Dave, to get the best out of them over the coming months and give the club a platform to really push on from 2017.”
The Robins parted company with Chester on February 24, just three - winless - games into the new campaign.
The 37-year-old had been in charge for two years and guided the club to the 2015 Challenge Cup final in his first full season at the helm.