Six candidates to take the Hull FC job with Paul Rowley deciding to stay at Salford Red Devils

AS of today, Tony Smith is no longer head coach of Hull FC after 18 months in charge.

The veteran Australian took charge at the MKM Stadium in September 2022 but failed to reach the Super League play-offs in 2023 and has won just once in eight games at the start of 2024.

Of course, Salford Red Devils boss Paul Rowley was heavily linked with the role, but he turned down the approach from the Black and Whites.

So, who could replace Smith in a difficult job?

Simon Grix

Appointed interim coach following Smith’s exit, Simon Grix is a budding young head coach beginning to make his way in the game. Following a successful playing career, the 38-year-old turned his hand to coaching, starting out as a head coach for Halifax Panthers midway through the 2019 Championship season. Grix took Fax to third in the 2021 season where the Panthers eventually went down to Featherstone Rovers in the semi-final play-offs. Under the ex-Warrington man’s tutelage, Fax lifted the 1895 Cup at Wembley last season.

Justin Holbrook

A name that is familiar to all Super League and NRL followers, Justin Holbrook is currently assistant coach at the Sydney Roosters after a difficult spell with the Gold Coast Titans. That job at the Titans, of course, followed a period of success at St Helens, where he lifted the Super League Grand Final trophy in 2019. Saints fans rued the loss of Holbrook back to the NRL – that was until Kristian Woolf led the club to three Grand Final successes. In the 2021 NRL season, Holbrook guided the Gold Coast into the finals for the first time since 2016, as the club finished 8th.

Nathan Brown

Another name familiar to Super League and NRL supporters, Nathan Brown earned a similar reputation in the UK for his role in leading Huddersfield Giants to the Challenge Cup Final in 2009 and then St Helens to Grand Final success in 2014. Brown then had disappointing spells with Newcastle Knights and New Zealand Warriors in the NRL, accruing less than a 35 per cent winning percentage at both clubs. Brown and his familiar relocated to the Gold Coast at the end of 2022 after a period being Parramatta Eels’ elite pathways coaching director.

John Morris

Currently assistant coach at Wests Tigers, John Morris is earning quite the reputation for himself as an up-and-coming coach. Given his first first-grade gig by the Cronulla Sharks ahead of the 2019 NRL season, Morris led the Sharks to the finals in his first season and did so again the following year. However, the 43-year-old was axed midway through the 2021 season and later joined the South Sydney Rabbitohs as assistant coach. Morris lasted only a few months as both him Sam Burgess left the Rabbitohs after a public fallout which involved South Sydney head coach Jason Demetriou.

Paul Anderson

Hull like to go overseas for their head coaches, but one man who is right under Adam Pearson’s nose is Paul Anderson. The former Huddersfield Giants boss, who led the West Yorkshire club to their first-ever League Leaders’ Shield in the early 2010s, is currently assistant coach at England as well as England Knights head coach. Learning under Shaun Wane is always going to give Anderson some great pointers to take into his own coaching future – and he still has that yearning to return to club rugby league. Anderson previously told League Express: “Going back into club coaching is something that is always in the back of my mind, but I purposely have chosen not to chase any roles.”

Lee Briers

It would be Lee Briers’ first head coaching role but the current Brisbane Broncos attacking coach has been earning major raps Down Under following his move to Australia ahead of the 2023 season. The former Wigan Warriors assistant spoke of his ambition to become a head coach one day so does the Hull job come too soon or would it be a perfect baptism of fire for Briers? A burgeoning reputation and learning from the best at Wigan and in the NRL could potentially tempt the Black and Whites into a move for the ex-Warrington halfback.

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