Last time to make an impact following lockdown at Hull FC

Hull FC's Andy Last. Picture: Hull FC.Hull FC's Andy Last. Picture: Hull FC.
Hull FC's Andy Last. Picture: Hull FC.
IT will surely be a RL quiz question in years to come: who was the interim head coach who could not take charge of a single game for more than two months?

Hull FC’s Andy Last, of course, is the answer. And there is still every chance it could conceivably be a lot longer than two months.

It was on Thursday, March 12 that the Black and Whites assistant was placed in temporary control, the night Lee Radford was sacked just minutes after an embarrassing 38-4 home defeat by Warrington Wolves.

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Last set off to work the next morning to put plans in place as FC were soon due in action again versus Huddersfield Giants.

However, by the Monday, rugby league across the country was shutdown due to the coronavirus – and it still shows no sign of opening up again any time soon.

With the country put in lockdown shortly afterwards and players, staff and Last himself then furloughed, it has been one of the most bizarre starts to a coach’s reign possible.

Talking to The Yorkshire Post, he said: “There’s one benefit to it that I’ve joked about a couple of times – I’m currently six weeks unbeaten as a head coach!

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“That’s the one positive I’m taking. In all seriousness, it has been strange. Obviously, me and Lee’s relationship was a very, very good one and we got on extremely well.

“Unfortunately, the team just wasn’t quite performing and what tends to happen is the head coach cops the brunt of it. When Adam (Pearson) asked me to step in and fill that void I was happy to do so. We had a short turnaround for Huddersfield on the Thursday. Then all this happened.

“That did give me a little bit of time to sit down, take a breath, do some reflection and speak to a couple of the players and try and make the best of this current situation we’ve found ourselves in.

“But it has been difficult as you want to get in front of the players, implement some of the things you want to tweak and change, put your own stamp on things.

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“I haven’t been able to do that. I spoke to the players over WhatsApp but I’ve not been able to do a great deal. I’m trying to make the best of it.”

Last, a former hooker who has fulfilled various roles during a lifetime with Hull, had been Radford’s right-hand man ever since the ex-Bradford Bulls forward took over at the end of 2013.

Together they helped end FC’s Wembley hoodoo by winning the Challenge Cup in 2016 and repeating the feat 12 months later.

After some poor form last year, though, and a fourth defeat in five games this time around, Radford was relieved of duties.

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Often when a reigning assistant takes over from a head coach, fans feel that will simply bring more of the same; there will be no fresh approach as the ‘newcomer’ is part of the old regime.

It is a misconception, though. Assistants do not always have the same beliefs about the sport as the man in command. Often, indeed, they can be wildly different.

Last explained: “All coaches have different philosophies on how they think the game should be played, the characters and different strengths, weaknesses they like in certain players.

“Although we got on we had a difference of opinion on certain ways of going about things but once we made the decision – and Lee as boss made the decision –then we were united and we went and did the best that we could.

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“But our personalities are different; I’ve got a different skillset to what Lee has and to different coaches in the competition.

“I’ve probably got a little more empathy for the lower end of the playing roster as that’s where I was; my understanding of that comes from where I was as a player.

“I never made the starting team on a regular basis and I’ve always been in youth development so my relationship with the young kids has always been a good one. But hopefully just a change of voice will spark a reaction here.”

Last, announced as one of England coach Shaun Wane’s assistants last week, added: “The biggest thing for us is just getting the best team on the park. This period of isolation has allowed some of those blokes who have had niggles to get their bodies right.

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“If we can get our best team on the park it was evident Round One against Leeds we’re a very capable team. I’m hoping my style of coaching – which is different to Lee’s – might spark more from some players. And it’ll have to as I won’t be interim head coach very long if I don’t get a turnaround.”

Does he want to be considered for the job full-time?

Last said: “That’s a funny one; I probably never will get chance to head coach Hull FC ever again.

“But given the uncertainty with how the game might look, I’m just happy holding the fort, trying to navigate the squad through this.

“I anticipate I’d get maybe a couple of months to see if I do get a reaction. If I do, it’s something for me to consider.

“I might go into Adam and say I want the job or he might come and ask do I want it? But there’s so much uncertainty. Who knows.”

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