WALES RL have appointed former Great Britain, Hull FC, Leeds and Castleford star Lee Crooks as Head Coach of the country’s Under 16s side.
Crooks will combine the role with his existing duties as Director of Rugby at St Mary’s College, Hull, and his work in overseeing the development programmes at the City of Hull Rugby League Academy, which feeds players to Hull FC and Hull KR.
He said: “This is a great honour for me, I’m very privileged to be accepted into the role as I know that there were a lot of good applicants.
“My aim is to continue the success of the Wales under 16s programme and I know my target is really to get the Welsh lads ready for the under 19s programme.
“I’m a skills-based coach and my role is to get all players competent in their relevant positions. I’m not structure-based, I do have a framework, but I like players to express themselves and see what they can do.”
He added: “I also know that getting Welsh players into Super League sides is vital for the full Welsh international side. I’ve a lot of connections throughout the game, especially in youth RL, so if we have some amazing talent in Wales, I will point them in the right direction, not just in City of Hull Academy but all round the country, I’ll distribute them across the game.
“The more Welsh players we can get across the game, the better for the future of Wales RL. I’ll be aiming to have lads from Wales who are new to the game as well as heritage players, as it’s important to get them on the WRL ladder straight away. The better the team we have, the more we can compete against nations like England and France.”
Crooks concluded: “I have a lot of experience at coaching at junior level. I’ve had successes and made errors but I’ve always ensured that I’ve learned a lot from any errors I’ve made, so all of this will help WRL, the players, and those who are part of the coaching team.
“I can’t wait to get started in the New Year.”
WRL General Manager Paul Chambers said: “Lee Crooks is a fantastic appointment for Wales Rugby League. The knowledge, skills and experience that Lee has acquired throughout his many years of involvement in the sport will be a great source for the many talented young players in Wales to learn from. His passion for developing young players and teaching them the right skills set before they progress in the game will stand the players who get involved in this programme over the next few years in a great position to reach the top level in the game.
“The strength of all the applicants in the process of appointing a new head coach shows how highly regarded Wales Rugby League is, and means the whole coaching staff will be provide a high quality learning environment for everyone concerned.”