Chris Thorman steps in as Rick Stone is axed by Huddersfield Giants

SENIOR player Michael Lawrence has backed Chris Thorman to guide Huddersfield Giants through the crucial Easter period.

Huddersfield Giants parted company with head coach Rick Stone on Tuesday (Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire).
Huddersfield Giants parted company with head coach Rick Stone on Tuesday (Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire).

Thorman, 37, was placed in temporary charge on Tuesday after Rick Stone became the first Betfred Super League head coach to lose his job this season.

Giants’ board decided on a change with the club second from bottom in the table, having won only two of their seven competitive games this year.

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Stone, 51, had been in charge since July 2016 when he took over from Paul Anderson.

Huddersfield avoided relegation through the Qualifiers that season and finished eighth in 2017, but have struggled for form this year.

Stone’s final two games in charge were an embarrassing 38-6 home loss to Hull KR two weeks ago and last Friday’s 48-10 drubbing at Wigan Warriors.

Wallsend-born Thorman, 37, had two spells as a player with Huddersfield and stints for Sheffield Eagles, Hull, Parramatta, London Broncos and York City Knights, where he was coach, before rejoining Giants as assistant coach five years ago.

Giants’ managing director Richard Thewlis expects to be “inundated” with enquiries about the vacant position, but Thorman is likely to be a popular choice among the players until a permanent coach is appointed.

Lawrence, who has been a member of Giants’ first-team squad for 11 years, admitted: “It is always a tricky time of the year, Easter.

“It is hard to play two games in four days and it is never good to lose a coach, but Chris Thorman has taken over and I am sure the boys will give their all.”

He predicted: “Chris will do a good job. There shouldn’t be too much disruption. He has been assistant coach since 2013, everybody knows Chris and all the boys will be trying hard, as normal and doing the best we can to support him.”

Thorman faces a baptism of fire at home to champions Leeds Rhinos in two days’ time.

Huddersfield then travel to Perpignan to face Catalans Dragons, the only team below them in the table, in a crucial Easter Monday showdown.

Lawrence said it is up to Huddersfield’s most experienced players to take more responsibility and support the rookie team boss.

The second-row forward stressed: “The players have to step up, especially those of us who have gone through this a couple of times already.

“Players like myself – and everybody who takes to the field – have to help out as best we can until the club finds a replacement.”

Stone, who is a former coach of Australian club Newcastle Knights, would have been out of contract at the end of this season, but Lawrence insisted: “It is never good when a coach gets sacked.

“It is always a weird day and everything seems a bit strange, but you’ve just got to get on with your job.

“We will be preparing the best we can for Friday, but it is never good seeing anybody lose their job.”

He added: “I thank him for everything he has done over the last two years trying to pull the club in the right direction.

“It is sad to see the coach go, but rugby league is a results business and our results have not been the best at the start of the season.

“It is the nature of the beast, it always seems to be the coach who goes first. I am sorry to see him go and I am sure everybody sends their best wishes.”

Confirming Stone’s departure, Thewlis paid tribute to the former coach, but insisted the time had come for a change.

He said: “It is a very difficult call for any club to make in respect of the head coach, but the board felt that a change was needed and that the change should be made sooner rather than later, with much of the season still to run.

“Rick Stone is an outstanding man, character and coach, but the results for us simply haven’t worked out as anyone would have wished for.

“Everyone here will be upset to see Rick leave as he is a very popular man, but with this decision now made we focus on supporting Chris Thorman in the role with the recognition that we will be inundated with offers of names wanting to come in – all of which we will evaluate in the fullness of time.

“Chris understands this, but he also understands that this is an opportunity for him to put himself forward too as he knows he is very highly thought of in our club.”

Stone declined to comment when contacted by The Yorkshire Post yesterday.