The London Broncos coach who enjoyed an unbeaten season now trying to avoid a winless one

JORDIE HEDGES is aiming to use the lessons learned during a 100 percent league campaign with Keighley to help battling London avoid going through an entire season without a win.

It’s nine games in, including a Challenge Cup clash with Warrington, and Mike Eccles’ promoted side is still seeking a first victory.

Having gone down 12-4 at home to Salford on Saturday, the basement Broncos are now preparing for Friday’s trip to Castleford.

With the Tigers having won only once in Super League, it’s a clash which the Broncos will be targeting to break their duck.

Up-and-coming Australian Hedges has been on board as one of Eccles’ assistants since November, having been handed a passport to Super League with the help of compatriot Rhys Lovegrove, who gave him his break into coaching at Cougar Park.

Spotting Hedges’ potential, then-Keighley chief Lovegrove added him to his staff when his playing career (in the development teams at Parramatta, Sydney Roosters and South Sydney, then the firsts at Doncaster), was ended by persistent knee problems in March 2022, when he was 26.

That year, the runaway Cougars won promotion as League One champions, with 20 wins from 20.

Former Broncos player Lovegrove left midway through last season, then linked up with Eccles in the capital to play his part as the Wimbledon-based side upset the odds to win the Championship play-offs from fifth place.

Lovegrove then moved to Hull KR, where he had also been a player, as Academy coach – and recommended Hedges to Eccles as he reshaped his staff for the top-flight challenge.

“I was back in Australia after deciding to retire and was going to take a full twelve months away from rugby,” Hedges explained to the Broncos website.

“Then Rhys gave me a call and asked me if I fancied coaching. Initially I said it wasn’t for me, but a few days later after speaking to my partner, I called him back, then joined Keighley.

“I’ve come across a lot of coaches in my time but none as thorough on the skill development side of things as him.

“It was a real eye-opener watching his sessions. We went through League One undefeated and I learned a lot.

“After finishing my contract at Keighley there were a few words exchanged between Mike (Eccles) and Lovey and now I’m here – and I’m loving it.”

First published in League Express newspaper, Issue 3,427 (April 22, 2024)

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