LONDON BRONCOS head coach Danny Ward and Salford Red Devils chief Ian Watson have been appointed as Great Britain assistant coaches.
The duo, two of Super League’s brightest young coaches, will join Wayne Bennett’s staff for the return of the Lions this autumn as they head to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Dewsbury-born Ward, 39, has earned plaudits for the way he has not only steered London into Super League but made them so competitive this term, beating leaders St Helens, Challenge Cup holders Catalans Dragons and Hull KR in successive weeks.
Ward won the 2004 Grand Final as a prop with Leeds Rhinos and earned a single Great Britain cap against the Kiwis the same year.
Former Halifax scrum-half Watson earned a record 30 caps for Wales before moving into coaching, initially with Swinton before making the short move to Salford in 2015.
They are currently up to fifth in Super League.
Both were interviewed by Bennett last week during the Lions head coach’s mid-season visit and will now be involved in the player assessment and selection process throughout the summer.
A Great Britain performance squad will be announced in September and Ward - whose father David won 12 Great Britain caps from 1977 to ‘82 - said: “I’m really grateful to David Hughes at London Broncos for giving me the opportunity, and to everyone at the club, especially the players.
“I think it’s great for Rugby League in London that we’ve got this recognition with an involvement in the GB tour.
“It was an incredible honour to represent Great Britain as a player, and I’m absolutely buzzing to be a part of the plans for this year.”
Watson, 42, said: “I was honoured to play so many times for Wales, and I’m delighted that the Great Britain team has been reformed, so it’s a privilege to have this chance to be involved on the tour.
“There is a great history of Wales players and coaches being involved with the Rugby League Lions, and I’ll also be representing Salford who have given me such a great opportunity in coaching.”
Kevin Sinfield, the Rugby Football League’s Rugby Director, said: “We are delighted to have Ian and Danny on board for the Great Britain tour.
“They both struck up an immediate rapport with Wayne Bennett at interviews last week.
“As well as having proved themselves excellent coaches in their work with Salford and London over the last couple of years, they are also great personalities to add to the tour, both with first-hand knowledge of the special challenges and opportunities of international rugby league.”
Great Britain will play four Tests on consecutive weekends from October 26 to November 16 on their first southern hemisphere tour since the 2006 Tri-Nations series – one against Tonga, two against New Zealand, and finally in Papua New Guinea.