LEIGH have appointed ex-Wakefield coach Chris Chester as head of rugby.
The 42-year-old, who left Trinity in early August, has signed a two-year contract and will start work immediately as the Centurions plot a return to Super League after this year’s relegation.
Leigh owner Derek Beaumont said an earlier bid to bring in a coach from the NRL had fallen through.
“I am delighted to bring Chris to our club. He is a fantastic bloke who is vastly experienced in the game, from playing to coaching both at Hull KR and over a prolonged period in a tough seat at Wakefield where he has not had the luxury of budgets afforded to other coaches in the game,” he said.
“His knowledge of players at all levels and dealing with agents will be significant in what he can bring to the club.
“I had previously spoken to (interim head coach) Kurt (Haggerty) and declared also in a public forum that I was bringing in a high-profile NRL coach that would have been my biggest single investment in an individual in my time at the club.
“That person was unable to secure a release, having initially been advised he could, and therefore it was back to the drawing board.
“When I spoke with Kurt initially about the proposed NRL appointment, he was disappointed and felt that he could succeed with a strong head of rugby supporting him.
“Having had lengthy discussions with Chris about various aspects, I am fully confident that I can give him full autonomy to make the right decisions over the whole rugby department from coaches and backroom staff to the recruitment of players and to deal with all matters rugby-related.
“This will enable myself and Neil to concentrate on my business, while always being available to offer support wherever needed, although that is most likely to be approving budget extensions!”
Beaumont continued: “Chris will also focus on building on the college team and the strong relationship we have with them to work with the RFL towards being able to ultimately establish a Category A Academy.
“Chris has a great work ethic which will be needed. He knows me well and he knows my ambition for the club and is keen and excited to achieve those goals with me, which is why he has taken this position outside of the coaching opportunities he has been offered.”
Chester, who played for Halifax, Wigan and Hull as well as Hull KR, where he was coach from 2014-16, said: “This is a role that really excites me.
“Leigh Centurions are a big club and with the restructure plans for the game of Rugby League there are exciting times ahead.
“I have a good relationship with (owner) Derek Beaumont, (head of operations) Neil Jukes and the chairman, Mike Latham. and I can’t wait to get started.
“Since leaving Wakefield, I’ve had time to reflect and recharge my batteries and this role gives me an opportunity to build something really strong.
“I will get the right people involved, as players and staff, to ensure the club fulfils its great potential.
“There are still plenty of players available, both here and overseas and so we have the opportunity to make quality additions to the group of players already contracted for next year.”