Alan Kilshaw: Hunslet appoint ex-Rochdale Hornets boss as new head coach

Hunslet have appointed former promotion-winning Rochdale Hornets boss Alan Kilshaw as their new head coach.

Hunslet's new coach Alan Kilshaw. Picture c/o Hunslet RLFC.

The 38-year-old met his players for the first time at training yesterday evening.

He joins the Parksiders two weeks after previous coach Gary Thornton was sacked following a Betfred League One defeat at Coventry Bears.

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Hunslet’s first game under Kilshaw is a home clash with Keighley Cougars on Sunday.

Hunslet coach Gary Thornton. Picture by Tony Johnson.

“I’m looking forward to getting started,” the new coach said.

“We have a great squad, great infrastructure, great board and good band of volunteers.

“Everything is in place to kick on with a big game on Sunday and I will be preparing the team the best I can to get the two points.”

Hunslet are seventh in the table, one place outside the play-offs, after four wins and a draw from 10 league matches.

The loss to Coventry, who had trailed by 22 points in the second half, ended a four-game unbeaten run and Hunslet were also beaten by North Wales Crusaders in their first match following Thornton’s dismissal.

With half of the season gone, the new boss faces a race against time to revive the team’s fortunes and seal a place in the top-six.

Chairman Kenny Sykes resigned in the wake of Thornton’s dismissal and some members of the squad are understood to have indicated they no longer want to play for Hunslet.

One of Kilshaw’s first tasks will be to persuade them to change their mind and he added: “My focus will be on improving our defence and on establishing what systems suit the players.

“We will take each game one at a time, but I am keen to play an exciting brand of rugby league that will entertain the fans.”

A product of the St Helens academy system, Kilshaw spent several seasons with Warrington Wolves’ youth development department and coached England at youth and academy level from 2011 to 2013.

He has also coached in Australia, with Sarina Crocodiles and was assistant-coach at Queensland Cup side Mackay Cutters.

Kilshaw was in charge of Rochdale Hornets from 2016-2018, finishing second in League One at the end of his first season and securing a place in the Championship following a famous win at Toulouse Olympique in the promotion play-off.

Hunslet are understood to have received 15 applications for the job.

A statement issued by the club said: “We are delighted to announce Alan as our new head coach.

“He was the standout candidate from a very strong group of applicants and we thank everyone who expressed an interest in the role.

“There is no doubt this has been a rough couple of weeks for everyone involved at the club, but we feel this is the catalyst for us to move forward and for the team to show its true potential.”

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