Wakefield Wildcats can announce Featherstone legend Stuart Dickens has been installed as the new under 19’s Academy coach after retiring from playing.
The prop forward has spent his entire career playing for Rovers apart from a nine game spell in Super League with Salford in 2005 and made over 400 appearances for the Championship outfit since his debut in 1998.
The 32-year old started his rugby league career at Eastmoor before moving to Westgate for the rest of his amateur days ahead of signing for Featherstone where he plied his trade for 17 years.
The vastly experienced former prop will take up his post in mid-November and lead the under 19’s into the new look Academy season in 2013, a challenge he is relishing.
“I am really happy with it and it came as a massive surprise when Richard approached me last week,” said Dickens.
“Wakefield is my home town club so I will be honoured to become part of the coaching staff and to try and improve the team on how they finished the season last year.
“There has been communication between the clubs for a number of weeks before that but for me it’s all happened quickly. In that time I’ve had to make a decision to hang up my boots and retire from playing, pack my day job in and take this job. It’s been a massive decision but quite an easy one too once I sat down and talked about it.
“There comes a time in everybody’s career when you have to pack in playing and I was obviously contracted to play for another year but I’ve been struggling with a couple of injuries towards the end of last season and now it’s finished I have still not totally got over them. Things were going through my mind a little bit so once this opportunity came up it made my mind up.”
Dickens says coaching has always been on his agenda and he has picked up some experience during his time at Featherstone. He is looking forward to taking that to the next level with the Wildcats where he will be a full-time member of staff.
“Becoming a coach is something I’ve thought about but when you are playing you don’t think too much about it although it was something in the back of my mind.
“I have done little bits of coaching at Featherstone and I had been mentoring some of the young kids there and done a number of sessions. I have looked at how people coach there but when you are part-time you work 8-10 hours through the day then you train 3-4 times a week and a session on your own so it doesn’t really leave much time to get into coaching as much as I’ve wanted to.
“Being the head coach of the Under 19’s is something I’m really looking forward to. I spoke to Rich on Saturday and we spoke about last year’s 18’s that will largely be this year’s 19’s and he told me what he wants me to do with them and what he expects.
“It’s going to be great to have my own team and put my own stamp on it as well as passing down a number of things what Rich wants to see me do with them. I am looking forward to getting started, meeting the lads and try and improve them as players as well as a team.”
Following on from the appointment of Ryan Hudson as Youth Development Manager, the Wildcats have brought in two people with a wealth of experience and are fresh out of the game as players and are well placed to impart their knowledge on the future Wildcats first team players.
“Me and Raz (Ryan Hudson) go back a long way because we are the same age and we have known each other since we were about eight years old so it will be great to work alongside him. He’s really enthusiastic and I am really looking forward to working with him. Together we are trying to build the youth system up and get some really good quality young kids coming through.
“I have also known Rich for a number of years through playing against him and with him for a year. He is really highly thought of in the game and I have a lot of stuff to learn off him. What I have heard about James Webster he is a really good coach but to start off with I am not going to be heavily involved.
“It will be a case of learning and as things go along I will get involved more but I do have a lot of things to learn. Obviously I am experienced and Rich is confident I can do the job because he has brought me in and I’m sure I will settle in pretty quickly.”
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