Arrival of unknown coach Sandercock sees Hull KR place faith in young talent

Dubious Hull KR supporters concerned by the appointment of a former economics teacher as their new head coach have been reassured he has all the right credentials for success.

Little-known Newcastle Knights assistant Craig Sandercock has signed a two-year deal to succeed Justin Morgan at Craven Park with the option of a further year.

He is the latest Australian rookie to take over a prime Super League role after rivals Hull FC appointed ex-Wests Tigers deputy Peter Gentle and Salford City Reds took on former North Queensland No 2 Matt Parish.

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Sandercock, who worked in a school while coaching part-time at Manly as recently as 2009, saw off competition from two other NRL applicants – Kevin Moore and Kurt Wrigley – and it leaves question marks over why young, respected English assistants such as Huddersfield’s Paul Anderson and Bradford’s Francis Cummins are being overlooked.

The undeniable triumph of Wigan Warriors’ Michael Maguire since leaving his Melbourne Storm assistant post has played its part but there remains some scepticism about the unheralded Sandercock’s appointment in East Yorkshire.

However, one of his former players believes he is certainly ready to advance seventh-placed Rovers in 2012. Talented scrum-half Scott Dureau, named in the Super League Dream Team following a sensational debut campaign at Catalan, worked with the 42-year-old last season.

“I was at Newcastle with him and he has some great ideas,” Dureau told the Yorkshire Post.

“He’s a young, up-and-coming coach who I really enjoyed working with at the Knights.

“He’s a very big thinker on the game but is real hands-on in training too and has high ambitions. He’ll definitely be doing his best to get Rovers to the semi-finals.

“There are a lot of Aussie coaches coming over now but they have good reputations; some have worked under people like Wayne Bennett and Craig Bellamy, and teams want the best for their clubs. I’m sure Craig will do well for Hull KR.”

Sandercock, who played briefly for London Broncos in 1997, said: “I am really excited about coming to Hull KR and coaching in the Super League.

“The rich history of the club, the professional way in which it’s administered, the passionate supporters and, most importantly, the prospect of coaching a talented group of players, greatly appeals to me.”

It was Sandercock’s burgeoning reputation which appealed to Rovers CEO Mike Smith, who travelled with chairman Neil Hudgell and vice-chairman Rob Crossland to Australia last week to interview several applicants.

“We said all along we wanted to take our time and make sure we made the right appointment and I think we’ve done that,” he said.

“The interview procedure was incredibly thorough, which it needed to be, as we wanted to bring in the right man to take Hull Kingston Rovers forward.

“We spoke with several top-quality candidates and Craig was the outstanding one. He has an excellent reputation within the NRL and was highly recommended by everyone we spoke to.

“Craig has also shown at Manly and Newcastle that he has a special talent for developing young players. That was a key element for us.

“He’s really excited about coming to Hull Kingston Rovers and can’t wait to get started.”

Sandercock spent eight years at Manly, initially in the lower grades, before becoming part of Des Hasler’s backroom staff, including during their 2008 NRL championship-winning season.

He has assisted Rick Stone at Newcastle during the last two years, where his complimentary chief said: “Craig’s unique coaching style and ability to work in a group environment makes him a great choice for Hull KR.

“His individual one-on-one coaching with emerging star Aku Uate has set new standards in knowing your players and how to get your message across simply and efficiently.

“He’s ready to take the next step in his career.”

n Castleford Tigers stand-off Rangi Chase – who will today end speculation about his future by signing a new long-term contract at Wheldon Road – has been shortlisted along with St Helens’ James Roby and Wigan’s Sam Tomkins for the prestigious Man of Steel award.