Simmons delighted to take up Saints challenge
3:12pm Wednesday 17th November 2010
IT is not the first time 50-year-old former Kangaroo tourist Royce Simmons has coached in England, the straight-talking Australian had two seasons at Hull in the early 90s before taking charge of Penrith Panthers.
His seven years as a head coach there ended in 2001 but since then he has enjoyed a long spell as an assistant coach at West Tigers, New South Wales and the Australian Test team.
But now he is ready to be the boss again, explaining that St Helens was the right job at the right time for him.
“When you have been a head coach and then follow that with a long spell as an assistant it was very important to make the right choice.
“I have had quite a few offers from clubs over in England in that time but to get an opportunity to coach St Helens, a club with so much tradition, history and arguably one of the greatest clubs in the history of rugby league, was fantastic.
“It was a big call but my wife and youngest daughter were happy to come across to England.
“It was nonetheless a big decision to make and I have left three of my children back home, as well as my mum and dad and wife’s family.
“I hope that commitment shows what I am prepared to do.
“I have not come here with the attitude of doing a two or three year spell to get back into the NRL, I am here to do my very best with this St Helens side.”
Simmons has work to do. A glittering decade of success ended with two trophyless seasons, an unenviable record of four successive Grand Final defeats and the resurgence of Wigan - and all have undoubtedly left their scars.
Thrown into the mix is the fact that the club go into the Simmons era without their talismanic former skipper Keiron Cunningham and will have to do their first season on the road in the Widnes.
But the injection of new personnel in the shape of England internationals Michael Shenton, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and hard-nosed Australian prop Josh Perry will give Saints a fresh look and no little potency for the challenge ahead.
Simmons is keen to see improvements across the board, from every player, rather than a reliance on a number of key stars.
“I have looked at a board in my office from a couple of years ago and I see an English side with seven St Helens players in it, now we have just two or three on the recent tour.
“When you have seven internationals you can rely on those players pulling you out of hole – but we have not got that at the moment.
“The most important thing is for every individual to worry about what they are doing themselves and improving their own game and let the coaching staff worry about the team situation.
“We are working hard on the individual skill levels to make them better players. They are really putting in for me at the minute and are really committed.
“The players have the right attitude and look hungry and that is making my life easy – it must be good I have been here two weeks and have still not abused anyone!”
The senior players have only been back training a week, with those on international duty – Shenton, James Graham, James Roby, Tony Puletua and Francis Meli all allowed an off-season before rejoining later in the winter.
Leon Pryce is back in training after undergoing an operation on his neck, but is only expected to start contact work in three weeks.
Simmons also revealed that scrum half Kyle Eastmond, who had an injury-plagued 2010, has had an operation on his other ankle and could possibly miss the first two weeks of the new season.
“We had a look at it while he was recovering from his other operation and discovered a bit of movement in there so thought it best all round to get it done now, and get it right, rather than risk it going five weeks before the play-offs.
“He may be back for round one but won’t have done too much work by that stage, but that is something we are comfortable with,” he said.
One big decision looming on the horizon is Cunningham’s replacement as skipper.
Simmons said: “We will make a decision after Christmas - there are three or four blokes here who could be captain.
“It is not a major problem – you need four or five leaders in your side. We will sit down and discuss it with the staff once all the players are back in.”
Spartan117 last edited by
Good Luck Royce, I will now try and catch some superleague games.
I hadn’t noted that James Graham was with St Helens, This has certainly got to be a massive plus if he were to make the decision to come to the NRL. Im guessing that he will go around one more time before making any sojourn to Syd to play in the 2012 season.
Thx for posting this Willow.