Huddersfield coach Rick Stone has become the first coaching casualty of 2018.
The Australian has left his position in charge of the Giants after almost two seasons at the West Yorkshire club, following a disappointing start to the new campaign.
Chris Thorman, who worked as Stone’s assistant, has been placed in temporary charge of all first team matters.
Stone took over at the Giants midway through the 2016 season following the departure of Paul Anderson, with an initial goal of keeping the club in Super League after a poor start to the year.
Under his watch, the Giants avoided the Million Pound Game following a narrow victory over Hull Kingston Rovers, while his first full season in charge saw the club finish in the top eight.
However, a return of two wins from the club’s first seven games of the season has left the Giants in 11th heading into Easter, with the club’s heavy defeat to Wigan Warriors last week proving to be the final straw.
Richard Thewlis, the club’s Managing Director said: “It is a very difficult call for any club to make in respect of the head coach but the board felt that a change was needed and that the change should be made sooner rather than later with much of the season still to run. Rick Stone is an outstanding man, character and coach but the results for us simply haven’t worked out as anyone would have wished for.
“Everyone here will be upset to see Rick leave as he is a very popular man but with this decision now made we focus on supporting Chris Thorman in the role with the recognition that we will be inundated with offers of names wanting to come in – all of which we will evaluate in the fullness of time. Chris understands this but he also understands that this is an opportunity for him to put himself forward too as he knows he is very highly thought of in our club.”
Stone’s long-term future had been in doubt for some time, with his contract at the John Smith’s Stadium set to expire at the end of this season. Despite that, the club continued in its efforts to retain a number of the club’s senior players, with Stone confirming he had yet to receive a new contract.
A number of coaches in Australia are already understood to be considering the role, having been monitoring Stone’s position at the club.