Newcastle Thunder interim coach, Tim Rumford has revealed that he sought approval from the departing Jason Payne, before agreeing to take charge while the club reviews it’s coaching structure.
Former Thunder player and assistant coach, Payne was released from his role after defeats in the opening two matches of the campaign.
The club has confirmed that he will take a three-month break, with his future involvement to be discussed at the end of this hiatus.
“It’s been a tough week. I only found out on the way to training on Tuesday that there’d been a change,” said former Oxford coach Rumford. “My instant thoughts were for Jason. I’m devastated for him ; I know how much this club means to him. He has put his heart and soul into this team, but for whatever reason, things just haven’t transferred onto the field.
It shows how professionally the situation was handled by the club though, that nobody had any inkling it was going to happen. Everything was kept between the management and Jason.
“It was a shock, but when there is a high level of investment and ambition, there is also a lot of pressure.
“When (chief executive) Mick Hogan asked me, and Michael Heap (the Academy coach) to take the reins, I said I was willing to do so but my first call was to Jason, to see how he felt about it. His response was classy.
“He said he’d rather we do it than the club bring someone in from outside straight away. He just wanted the team to have some form of stability, so I felt a bit better taking on the role knowing I had his blessing.
“I am a committed Rugby League man and when I joined the club I bought into what they were trying to do. The ambition excites me – that hasn’t changed – and with Jason gone I will do whatever I can for the club over the next few weeks.
“I have spoken to Mick Hogan, who assured me there is a plan in place, going forward, and I’m confident that once we’ve got beyond this turbulent spell of change, whatever happens will be in the best interests of the club.”
Newcastle say they are assessing options regarding a restructure of the coaching staff.