Hull FC have announced several changes to their coaching staff and the return of a reserve team ahead of the 2019 season.
Former Challenge Cup winning captain Gareth Ellis will start pre-season in a new coaching role, after having been involved in an administration capacity for the last twelve months.
Under guidance from head coach, Lee Radford, Ellis will now be the club’s newly established Emerging Talent Coach, working alongside conditioner Kirk Yeaman and physio Chris John in helping manage and nurture the younger element of the first-team squad.
They will also be heavily involved in the return of the club’s reserve-grade squad, which will return for the 2019 season in a formal league alongside eight other clubs, bridging a much-needed gap between the first-team and the Academy.
The reserve-grade will complement the dual-registration partnership with Doncaster RLFC, which will continue next season, with Hull FC coach and former player, Richard Horne, continuing his role as head coach at the Dons.
The club’s ethos of nurturing potential talent and identifying Super League players of the future will be the philosophy that runs throughout the club’s development pathways, from grassroots to the first team.
England Students head coach and current Hull FC Development Manager, Richard Tate, will also be part of the emerging talent setup and he will provide an important link between the club’s schools, college and university programmes.
The emerging talent programme will also be aligned to University of Hull, with Tate also maintaining coaching duties with the university squad, who will train alongside Hull FC’s reserve team.
The club’s wider education and development network also continues to take shape, with development teams now established at the Hull FC Sports College, St Mary’s College, Selby College and plans for development centres further afield in the country, complementing the existing City of Hull Academy setup at Bishop Burton College.
All these teams have a familiar look and feel, including coaching from former players Jack Downs and Ryan Langton, as well as Hull FC legend, Lee Crooks.
The club will also maximise its links with the community game in the region, being actively involved in plans to help grow grassroots Rugby League in the area, with further news expected to be announced in the coming months.
Highly regarded local coach John McCracken will also join the club’s reserve-team coaching setup, providing a strong link to the amateur game in the city and keeping a keen eye on potential talent.
Other familiar faces will continue to be involved with the club’s first-team coaching setup, including Andy Last (assistant coach) and Paul Hatton (Head of Performance), whilst conditioner Adam Whitney has recently been involved with the England Knights tour to Papua New Guinea.
Clubman of the Year Feka Paleaaesina will also maintain his role as Player Welfare Manager.
Hull FC Chief Executive, James Clark, said: “These are subtle changes but intended to provide us with a sustainable long term vision for the club, with influential and experienced people involved at all levels.
“We have been working hard on the detail for quite some time to develop a programme that will bridge the gap between the first-team and the Academy, as well as the professional and amateur game.
“Over the last 12 to 18 months we have identified a number of areas where we need to improve, particularly when it comes to the progression of young players.”
He continued, “Salary cap pressure and a decline in participation at a number of age-groups is making the emphasis on identifying and developing homegrown talent all the more important.
“The network of Rugby League development we are establishing both locally and further afield, aligned directly to our performance ethos, will allow us to improve the ecosystem in which players can progress, led by a very committed and experienced group of people.
“We are fortunate that we have senior staff in Lee Radford and Andy Last helping us deliver this vision from the very top, as well as a Chairman in Adam Pearson who provides us with the required investment where it is needed.”