Huddersfield Giants v Hull Kingston Rovers: Apprentice aims to get one over the sorcerer

Huddersfield head coach Simon Woolford: Faces his mentor.
Huddersfield head coach Simon Woolford: Faces his mentor.
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HUDDERSFIELD Giants chief Simon Woolford tonight goes up against Hull KR’s Tim Sheens – the legendary coach who gave him his debut for Canberra Raiders 25 years ago.

That just shows the longevity of the 68-year-old, who has forged such a decorated career, winning four Premierships in Australia, and Woolford conceded he owes so much to him.

“Sheensy is a good friend of mine and he did play a big part in my career,” he said, having made his bow for Canberra in 1994 and going on to make more than 200 appearances for the club.

“He signed me from a little town called Young as a half-back and him and Craig Bellamy – my 21s coach – turned me into a hooker a year after I’d got there.

“It was a position I made my own and made a good career out of it. I owe a lot to Tim and Craig for converting me into a hooker and developing me into the player I became.”

Woolford made just that solitary appearance in 1994 when a star-studded Canberra went on to win a third Grand Final under Sheens.

He’s unbelievable; he loves the game, he’s passionate about the game and those are probably the reasons why he’s had such longevity and success as a coach.

Huddersfield Giants coach, Simon Woolford

He recalled: “Sheensy only coached me for three years before he went up to North Queensland.

“But he’s been a fantastic coach for a long time and is a real innovator. We had a great squad back in those Raiders days – no doubt about it – and I was lucky to play for four or five years with guys like Ricky Stuart, Laurie Daley and Bradley Clyde.

“Sheensy had a lot of success with it. He has such a love for the sport. If you sit down and get caught up with Sheensy you could be sat there talking about footy for four hours.

“He’s unbelievable; he loves the game, he’s passionate about the game and those are probably the reasons why he’s had such longevity and success as a coach.

“He won the Premiership with Wests Tigers in 2005, too, coached the Kangaroos for a while and hasn’t aged at all.

“He still looks the same as 20 years ago; I don’t know how he manages that!”

In contrast, 43-year-old Woolford – whose injury-hit squad sit bottom ahead of tonight’s game – is approaching the anniversary of just his first year in charge as a head coach. Does he feel he could go on as long as his mentor?

With a smile, he said: “It’s not a good time to be asking that question. Hopefully!

“From all reports, Sheensy is struggling to scrape a squad together just like we are.

“We need to replicate what we did against Wigan (only win) and, if we do that, we’ll be in the fight.”