Former RFL referees’ boss Jon Sharp has been confirmed at Featherstone Rovers’ new head coach.
Sharp, an ex-Rovers player, takes charge less than a week after Andy Hay left the club following a 32-30 home defeat by Dewsbury Rams.
He takes over with immediate effect on a contract until the end of the 2017 season and will be in charge for the first time when Rovers visit Kingstone Press Championship leaders Leigh Centurions on Sunday.
Sharp was born in Featherstone and previously had spells as coach of Batley Bulldogs and Huddersfield Giants, as well as assistant at St Helens.
In a statement released through the club, Sharp said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be back in club coaching, especially at a club which means so much to me.
“I enjoyed my time working with the sport’s match officials, but I really missed being involved with the cut and thrust of working with players and preparing for games on a weekly basis.
“I played at Featherstone for a couple of seasons almost 20 years ago and have great memories of that time. I also cut my teeth as a coach with the club’s Academy and there is a real sense of ‘coming home’ about being here again.”
He added: “Featherstone Rovers is one of the sport’s most famous names and I feel honoured and privileged to have this chance
“It’s a long time since Featherstone were in the top flight and my aim is to put the club back where it belongs.
“That hasn’t really been achievable during the Super League era, but the new league structure has given the club a realistic chance of achieving its ambitions.
“We play Leigh Centurions this weekend and it’s a tough start, but one I’m sure everyone here at Featherstone is looking forward to.
“Leigh have set the standards in the Championship in the last two years and this is an opportunity for Featherstone to show what we are capable of.
“There is a cracking squad here at Rovers, a good strong blend of experienced players and high quality youngsters.
“My job is to bring out the best in them and that’s the most exciting part of it for me.
“The facilities here at Featherstone really are first class. The Big Fellas Stadium is the best stadium in the area by a long way and the training facilities are outstanding, all of which is a credit to the club’s chairman Mark Campbell.
“Mark’s ambitions for the club, both on and off the field, are infectious and have inspired me to come and work at Featherstone.”
Campbell said: “Jon is the perfect coach to deliver the club on the next stage of our journey towards Super League.
“His knowledge of both the club and the game is second to none and we are delighted that he has accepted our offer to become head coach.
“We haven’t seen the best of Featherstone Rovers so far this season and I have no doubts that Jon will help us realise our potential in the weeks, months and years ahead.”
He is understood to have been suspended from his role at the RFL, which he joined four years ago, last month and the organisation confirmed his departure this morning.
RFL chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer said: “We would like to thank Jon for his contribution in what has been an exciting period of transition for the game.
“As a former player and first team coach, Jon brought a fresh perspective to the match officials’ department and has played an important role in the development of the sport’s referees and touch-judges at the elite level. Jon leaves with our best wishes.”