Who is Rick Stone?

Huddersfield finally announced the identity of their new head coach on Monday, with Rick Stone the man tasked with taking the club forward for the next two-and-a-half years.

Stone, who replaces Paul Anderson after he was sacked last month, is relatively unknown on these shores, having neither played or coached in Britain before.

So who actually is he?

His playing career was rather uneventful. While he did make a handful of appearances for South Sydney Rabbitohs in the 80s before featuring for the Nambucca Heads Roosters after that.

However, it is in coaching where the 49-year-old has made a name for himself.

His first coaching post came with Queensland Cup side Burleigh Bears, where he spent over 12 years, winning the league title three times in that spell.

His efforts there caught the attention of the Newcastle Knights and then Knights coach Michael Hagan, who drafted Stone in to become his assistant in 2006.

Despite the changing of coach, Stone stayed in that role when former Wakefield chief Brian Smith replaced Hagan. In 2009, Smith’s departure from the NRL side gave Stone the opportunity to finally become a head coach in the big leagues. He eventually guided the Knights to seventh in 2009, losing in the first round of the play-offs to Canterbury.

His first full-season in charge wasn’t as successful with Newcastle finishing 11th in the table, four points short of the play-offs. 2011 saw an improved finish, with the Knights finishing eighth, however the club demoted Stone back to the first team’s assistant after the arrival of supercoach Wayne Bennett, although a deal was agreed for Stone to take over duties upon Bennett’s departure. In the meantime, Stone tried his hand in the international game, taking on the role as Fiji’s head coach, eventually guiding them to the semi-final of the 2013 World Cup.

He was re-appointed as head coach at Newcastle in 2015, with Bennett opting to join Brisbane Broncos. However, it didn’t work out for Stone, who was ultimately sacked in July of that year, with his side eventually getting the wooden spoon.

However, his disappointing end at the Knights hasn’t changed the opinions of those that have played under him during the course of his coaching career.

“He’s a great coach and an even better person,” said Leigh star Cory Paterson, who played under Stone at the Knights for two years,

“I really enjoyed my time with Stoney, first off as an assistant and then as a head coach. I can’t speak highly enough of him, Huddersfield have a real gem there.

“He’s tactically very smart, but the type of bloke he is means he gets on with everyone. He’s definitely a man’s man and if you treat him right he’ll treat you right. I knew when I was playing for him he had my back.

“He’ll incorporate his style into the Huddersfield players as best he can. He’ll do a good job for them and it’s made out job harder with us having to play Huddersfield in the bottom eight.”

Warrington star Kurt Gidley told the Super League show: “I think he’s taken lots of good things from coaches he’s worked with. He’s a really approachable person Rick and I think he has a great relationship with all players and all staff and as a player you want to play for him.

“Rick over the years worked pretty closely with us defensively, and that’s probably an area they need to work on. He’ll be itching to get over here.”