Wildcats boss Richard Agar has today been confirmed as the new head coach of the French national team.
Agar will combine the role with his job at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium throughout 2013 and lead the French side into the World Cup later on this year where they are in a group with New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.
He guided the Wildcats to a play-off spot in 2012 after recruiting 20 new players in all throughout the year and has seen his team start Super League XVIII with two wins from their opening three games.
Agar was confirmed in the role at a press conference in France this morning and spoke to the Wildcats website ahead of travelling to France.
“I’m very proud and very honoured to be offered the position to be a head coach of a national team,” said Agar.
“It was a little bit of a surprise. I got the phone call about a month ago and it was very kind of the club as both Andrew (Glover) and James (Elston) gave me their blessing to go and meet the French people to look at the levels of commitment and when I’d be required to be over there. I think it’s a great opportunity and an opportunity I want to take and be very proud to take. I think it’s a great time to be involved with them.
“I thought it was a super time with so many good players and the game as it is in France with the coaches that are currently working there, with the administrators that are involved and of course it’s a World Cup year as well. To be able to take part in a World Cup as a coach is something everybody has an aspiration to do.
“I am genuinely excited and I’m really pleased that I’m the person to head up their organisation and I’m sure I can help them along the way and make an impact.
“Having sat down and had talks with them, we shared a very similar vision, I thought they were very level headed in everything they wanted to achieve. It’s going to be great to work with a different staff and a different set of players at the end of the season and take part in what is a very prestigious event in a job that carries a lot of prestige with it.”
Agar will fulfill the role initially until the end of the World Cup and says it will then be reviewed by all parties.
He was quick to assure Wildcats fans that his primary focus during the Super League season will be with his squad and that the new post won’t impact his work in West Yorkshire.
“There is going to be no camps because of the access to the Catalans players. The way the Federation and myself see it running is that there is a big enough window of opportunity post season from the end of the comp to when the first game is. I am confident there is enough time there, especially with the bulk of the players coming from one side, you can appreciate it’s probably different to some other nations.
“There are some gaps in the calendar and I’m over in France with Wakefield in a couple of weeks so I’ll have half a day at some time to pick up on some meetings.
“Throughout the season I’m looking to go over and run possibly three workshops and meetings to get the whole squad together but in the gaps in the calendar around the Exiles weekend and things like that.
“There is enough opportunity, and I’m saying this to the Wakefield fans and Wakefield players which I have spoken to about it. I wanted their support and I wanted the support of the board before I accepted the job. They won’t know I’m gone, it’s plain and simple.
“It will be done in and around time off and weekends if we don’t have a game or when there are bigger gaps in the calendar.
“At the end of the year I’ll be gone and out of the country for a few weeks but that’s the off season. I’m looking forward to it and it’s very, very important for people to know Wakefield is my bread and butter and what I’m passionate about.
“There’s no way I would have considered taking the job if I felt there was any compromise anywhere down the line and the French people know that too. We have worked out a very happy arrangement and we think we can make it work in terms of what we can commit to the team too.”
Wildcats Chief Executive, James Elston said the opportunity for Agar to coach in a World Cup is fantastic recognition for both him and the club.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Richard to work with some top class players and test himself against some of the best coaches in the world later this year,” said Elston.
“He takes the role with our blessing and knowing how hard he works, I’m certain he’ll make a success of taking the French side into a tournament that will be a tremendous showcase for the sport.
“It won’t impact his work with the club and we see the opportunity for Richard to develop as a positive not only for him, but the extra experience he will bring back can only be of benefit to our players and coaching staff.
“To be able to have our brand be involved with a World Cup was an opportunity I see as huge value to our continuing development. When Richard leads the French into games against New Zealand, PNG and Samoa he will be automatically taking our brand with him.
“The professional development it gives him as a coach will also be an asset to our club and the opportunity for word class players to see how we operate and the culture we have is priceless.
“The commitment we have agreed with the French Federation is fair and will have no impact on our season and it is for this reason the we allowed this move to happen.”
You can listen to the full interview with Agar HERE on the official Wildcats Sound Cloud account that is a new addition for the 2013 campaign.
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