Rugby League: Crooks in line to succeed Sigsworth

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The Independent Online
The Hull coach, Phil Sigsworth, has resigned only days after seeing his side collect the First Division championship trophy.

Sigsworth, who has been in charge at The Boulevard since January 1996, announced his departure in an agreed statement yesterday.

"After a meeting with the chairman, Tim Wilby, to discuss the direction and future of the club, I have offered my resignation, which has been accepted," he said, before going on to wish the team he has built success in Super League next season.

Sigsworth has jumped before he was pushed. It has been clear that under the new regime headed by Wilby and his chief executive, Peter Tunks, that there was no place for him in the long term and his position was compromised in mid-season by the appointment of the former Workington coach, Peter Walsh, as director of coaching.

Sigsworth, a former Australian international full-back, will now return home where he has been linked with an assistant coach's job at South Sydney.

He has had support from some supporters and players, who will be sorry to see him leave, and it is impossible to argue with a record of only losing one game in the First Division this season.

But the new power-brokers at Hull, financed by former tennis player David Lloyd, are fiercely ambitious and never saw Sigsworth as part of the plans that they have for the club, which has already taken over the ailing Hull City Football Club and installed Mark Hateley as player-manager.

The likely option for the rugby side of their operation is Steve Crooks, the former Hull KR coach who has been lined up as a potential successor to Sigsworth and the ideal man to work alongside Walsh.

"We are now light on the coaching side and there will be an announcement soon," said Tunks, who also revealed that the club's prime asset, their prolific centre, Tevita Vaikona, has agreed a new three-year contract. That will come as a disappointment to several existing Super League clubs, who had identified Vaikona as a player they would have dearly liked to have added to their squads.

The Canberra coach, Mal Meninga, has responded to Monday's World Club Championship defeat at the London Broncos by taking his team to a camp in Cumbria to prepare for their next match against Halifax on Sunday.