Newcastle Thunder’s headline signing Liam Finn revealed how he almost retired from the game before he joined the League 1 club, to focus solely on his coaching position with Wakefield Trinity.
The 35-year-old joined the club ahead of the new after a second spell with Wakefield, that lasted three seasons, while also having a six-game loan spell with Widnes Vikings last season.
But upon being offered a coaching role with Wakefield, he was willing to hang up his boots to move into the backroom permanently, before a Newcastle seized the opportunity to find an agreement that benefitted everyone.
“Michael (Carter) and Chezzy (Chris Chester) offered me the job on the coaching staff and I wasn’t going to say no,” he said.
“If that was going to come at the cost of me playing then I was going to bite the bullet because it was something I always wanted to do.
“But it worked out really well for me, because Newcastle have a dual-registration with Wakefield. They approached me and said that if you don’t feel like you’ve finished then come on board then don’t finish.
“I made it clear to Newcastle that my priority was learning to coach with Wakefield because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. The powers at be said they understand that. They’ve been great. They’ve got a lot of ex-sportsmen on board who understand. But in the end it’s all worked out really well for me.”
The halfback now finds himself in the third tier of the sport, having been in Super League last year, but he is no stranger to life outside of Super League with spells at Halifax, Dewbsury and Featherstone during his career.
And the proposition of a promotion battle excites the Ireland international, with League 1 now an open competition with the promotion of powerhouses Toulouse, Toronto, Bradford Bulls and York City Knights in recent campaigns.
“It’s going very good and I’m really enjoying it. I’m enjoying the coaching staff and the backroom staff and facilities. They’re as good as anywhere I’ve been it really is a top club.
“It’s an exciting place to be. You’ve only got to look at the signings they’ve made to see their intent for next season and there’s a lot of promise in the side.
“This is nothing against the other clubs, but League 1 is an even keel this year. The last couple of years it was pretty obvious who was going to win it, but now is the chance the for a club like us to take the opportunity.
“Jason is really enthusiastic and his attitude is infections. He’s a bright young coach and he’s got strong future in the game. He’s instilled a lot of the right things into the side to get us where we need to be and hopefully we’ll get there.”
Certainly the club are presenting themselves as an exciting proposition in League 1 next season, with a promise to make good on the fact they have hosted Magic Weekend for the past four years.
Having been in and around the club, and city, since before Christmas, Finn has already seen the signs of a club building the foundations to be a promising outfit.
“It’s important that they capitalise on Magic Weekend being in Newcastle,” he added. “They’ve been doing the right thing for the last six or seven years and built up the Academy and grassroots rugby around the city.
“If you look back at Gateshead where they were just thrown into Super League, it was just a disaster waiting to happen. There’s been some smart people involved, and there’s not an Academy that’s competitive in Super League. That’s the only way the club is going to sustain itself when there’s infrastructure in place.”