Premiership-winning former Canterbury boss Steve Folkes’ return to coaching is set to move another step closer when he becomes one of Tim Sheens’ assistants at the Wests Tigers next year.
Currently the Tigers’ conditioner, Folkes is likely to step into a coaching role after current assistant Royce Simmons’ move to English club St Helens.
Folkes recently said he still had the coaching bug and even missed the pressure of a full-time gig in the NRL.
He quit the Bulldogs at the end of 2008 after 10 years at the helm, which included winning the 2004 title.
Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys said he had sounded out Folkes about a different role in 2011.
“Steve’s been tremendous this year, he’s fitted in really well and added a lot to the business and he’s up for whichever role we think he can contribute best in,” Humphreys told AAP on Thursday.
"Right now the way our thinking is, we do have a good group of experienced coaches already on board … Steve Folkes of course could provide some more input into that area, there’s one option.
"It’s more than likely that we’ll just go with a slight shift in responsibilities from our existing staff and that may allow us to bring in some additional specialists in some areas that we feel might add something to the mix.
“(There’s) no final decisions at the moment but I would imagine it would head that way rather than just replace Royce with another full-time assistant.”
Folkes would join current assistant Peter Gentle and under-20s coach Grant Jones under Test boss Sheens, whose current contract runs until the end of 2011.
Humphreys’ comments came as the Tigers announced a government-funded $2.5 million upgrade to their spiritual home, Leichhardt Oval.
The improvements include the replacement of seats and amenities blocks and the installation of a state of the art electronic scoreboard.
Leichhardt had been spoken about as a potential week one home final venue for the Tigers, but Humphreys defended the decision to take the game, won dramatically by the Sydney Roosters 19-15 , to the Sydney Football Stadium.
“The decision we made for our home final, we believe, was the right decision,” he said.
“Anyone who was at the Football Stadium for that epic encounter would agree that it was an atmosphere that would be difficult to replicate.”
The Tigers are also unlikely to increase their current quota of four regular season games per season at the inner west venue.
The joint venture club also plays four games at Campbelltown and four at the SFS.
“I feel now we’ve evolved into a model that suits us,” Humphreys said.
“The work that’s being proposed will certainly help protect those four games … and it keeps our options open going forward.”
having Steve Folkes at wests-tigers this season, has given the team that little extra bit of mental toughness.
I am glad he is at the club, if he does go onto help in the coaching area, then it can only be of benefit to the club.
as for the up-grades happening to leichhardt, good news as well.
HE WAS one of the fearsome Dogs of War in his playing days. Now Steve Folkes is the taskmaster being credited with turning the tame Tigers into the big cats of the NRL. Hard man Folkes has emerged as a key driving force behind the scenes as the Wests Tigers chase their first premiership since the finals campaign of 2005.
In the five years since, the Tigers have been accused of lacking mongrel but no-nonsense Folkes - a premiership-winning player and coach - has injected steel this year as strength and conditioning coach,
according to Tigers forward Liam Fulton. “Folkesy’s a winner,” said Fulton. "He demands respect and brings a winning culture. He has been through a lot in his career.
“He had that tough attitude - that old school toughness. Folkesy is awesome, unbelievable.”
Folkes helped Canterbury win six premierships - four as a player, one as coach and another when he was the Bulldogs’ strength and conditioning coach. He has brought that hardened Bulldogs culture to Concord.In the mid-1980s, Folkes was part of a mean and hard Canterbury pack labelled the Dogs of War.
Now all that experience and success has been shifted into the Wests Tigers camp.
Folkes was yesterday quick to play down his role at the Tigers.
“Most of the credit goes to the coaching staff. They have put in a lot of hours to get where we are now,” Folkes said.
"We have won a lot of close games this year, maybe games we would have lost in the past.
"I just want to get the players fit and well for this time of year. The fact we have made the finals for the first time since 2005 is rewarding.
"I’ve certainly enjoyed it. They are a good bunch to work with.
“I have come the full circle, I guess. I started out as a PE teacher and was strength and conditioning coach at Canterbury in 1994 and 1995 when we made grand finals.”
The Dogs of War pack included Folkes, Paul Langmack, Peter Kelly, Billy Johnstone, Peter Tunks, Brian Battese and David Gillespie.
“He has brought some Bulldog steel to the Wests Tigers,” Langmack said. “Folkesy has won grand finals as a player and a coach. He is a tough bloke and a fitness fanatic.”
While content and satisfied with his efforts in 2010, Folkes still harbours a desire to return to coaching.
“I would like to coach again. I am not cured, as Warren Ryan once said.”
In my view,Folkes imput is good but overstated.
Wests won in 05 in a higher standard competition without him and since that time he has won a wooden spoon with the Dogs and coached West Indies who are also not travelling well.
The Telegraph makes a habit of these “unusual” stories and tends to see things from a Canterbury point of view.
I certainly don"t want to see a Canterbury connection At this club.The Dogs are a club of yesteryear.
In my view,Folkes imput is good but overstated.
Totally agree. Anyone who thinks he turned the club around by fitness training is smoking the good stuff.
I have no problems with him but Sheens / Royce and the players were the major factor in the better performance last year.
No folkes last year = same result.
Not exclusively responsible for 2010, A lot of things that have been years in the planning are starting to come to fruition, however the players themselves have been crediting Folkes influence and direction as a key ingredient to their confidence to stay in games and grind out the ugly wins we saw in 2010.
For me its the added depth that we say this year in terms of the addition of Lote , Brown, danniella and the promotion of The Fafitas, Dywers etc. The future bodes well.