Andy Last - ‘I can resurrect my career at Wakefield Trinity after Hull FC exit’

AFTER the initial “shock and disappointment” of not getting the Hull FC head coach job, Andy Last says he refused to “undersell” himself and now firmly believes moving to Wakefield Trinity as an assistant is just what he needed to further his own career.

Andy Last at Wakefield Trinity (Picture: Wakefield Trinity)

Granted, moving on was hard; Last ended a 23-year association with hometown Hull just before Christmas.

He had worked in various roles with the East Yorkshire club in that time and, after Lee Radford’s sacking last March, had stepped up from No 2 to take over as interim head coach.

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Last hoped to have done enough to secure the role on a permanent basis, especially having guided the Black and Whites to the Super League semi-finals.

Andy Last during his time as interim head coach of Hull FC (Picture: Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

However, they instead opted for Australian Brett Hodgson who did not require the 39-year-old in his first-team coaching set-up.

That left Last with a decision to make; although the club created him a new role, he opted to leave and join their Super League rivals.

Now fully absorbed in pre-season training with Trinity, and the daily commute along the M62, he told The Yorkshire Post: “It has been a big change but one, looking on it now, that I needed.

“It’s been really, really good for my own development, a breath of fresh air in terms of getting to know new players, stepping out of my comfort zone and the security blanket of hometown Hull FC, and working with new members of staff.

Andy Last spent 23 years at Hull FC (Picture: SWPix.com)

“It’s probably something I wouldn’t have done if I didn’t feel as though I had to make that move for my career.

“Although it was tough and gut-wrenching to make that decision and leave a club that I supported and worked for all my working life, ultimately I feel it will be the right decision in the long run for my own career and development.

“After the initial shock and disappointment that I didn’t quite do enough to get the head coach job, the conversation I had with (Hull owner) Adam (Pearson) and James (Clark) was a good one.

“They spoke about not wanting to lose me to the organisation and wanted to create me a role where it felt my skill set could be utilised for the benefit of Hull FC.

“But it just didn’t feel right for my own career point of view to do that; it was taking a step sideways/backwards and after the job I did – and how I felt comfortable in that position – I felt I’d have been under-selling my skill set.”

That is true especially when you consider Last was also named last year as one of Shaun Wane’s England assistants for the 2021 World Cup.

As he embraces working with Chester and fellow new assistant Willie Poching at Belle Vue, he maintains he has no hard feelings towards Hull – who have signed Mitieli Vulikijapani, a British Army rugby union winger,on trial for the rest of pre-season – or Hodgson.

“I was never 100 per cent confident that I’d done enough (to get it), as Hull is a big club and it’s got huge expectations,” said Last.

“They’d spoken all year about wanting to win a trophy and ultimately we came up short albeit we showed some improvement and certain players improved and the team certainly developed towards the back end of the season, we still came up short.

“The feedback I got from the playing group was really positive but I understand the direction the club’s decided to go,” he said.

“I wish Brett and the team the best of luck and hopefully they can achieve those objectives which they will set out. But that is the past for me. I’m just looking forward to making as big an impact as I can at Wakefield.”

With his attention-to-detail, tactical awareness and depth of experience, he is a major addition to the West Yorkshire club who are looking to bounce back after a disappointing couple of seasons.

He already knows Chester well having, ironically, coached him when the Trinity chief was part of Hull’s 2005 Challenge Cup final winning squad.

But is Last looking forward to not having the 24/7 toil of head coach duties to worry about?

“Yes, that is the nice side of being an assistant; you don’t carry that weight of expectation and that pressure that comes with the top job,” he said.

“But that’s something I feel I’ll be a better assistant to Chris for – having that experience of being in that hot seat the seven months I did it as I can appreciate and understand certain pressures that come with that position.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to take some of that pressure away from Chris by doing certain things on the training field and leading alongside Willie so that Chris can focus on just being the best head coach he can possibly be and that relationship is evolving.

“We’re working well together; the three of us have good experience, we get on really, really well, have similar philosophies and beliefs on how we think the game should be played and so far I’ve really enjoyed what we’re doing in the first five weeks on board.”

Hull’s loss could certainly be Wakefield’s gain in 2021.

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