Featherstone Rovers have confirmed the appointment of 38-year-old Jon Sharp as the club’s new head coach on a two-and-a-half year contract.
Featherstone-born Sharp will take up his new role with immediate effect. He succeeds Andy Hay who parted company with the club earlier this week.
Rovers are currently fifth in the Kingstone Press Championship and with three league fixtures before the competition splits into the Super 8s, Sharp believes a top-four finish is an achievable goal.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be back in club coaching, especially at a club which means so much to me,” he said.
“I enjoyed my time working with the sport’s match officials but I really missed being involved with the cut and thrust of working with players and preparing for games on a weekly basis.
“I played at Featherstone for a couple of seasons almost 20 years ago and have great memories of that time. I also cut my teeth as a coach with the club’s Academy and there is a real sense of ‘coming home’ about being here again.
“Featherstone Rovers is one of the sport’s most famous names and I feel honoured and privileged to have this chance
“It’s a long time since Featherstone were in the top flight and my aim is to put the club back where it belongs. That hasn’t really been achievable during the Super League era but the new league structure has given the club a realistic chance of achieving its ambitions.
“We play Leigh Centurions this weekend and it’s a tough start but one I’m sure everyone here at Featherstone is looking forward to: Leigh have set the standards in the Championship in the last two years and this is an opportunity for Featherstone to show what we are capable of.
“There is a cracking squad here at Rovers, a good strong blend of experienced players and high quality youngsters: my job is to bring out the best in them and that’s the most exciting part of it for me.
“The facilities here at Featherstone really are first class: the Big Fellas Stadium is the best stadium in the area by a long way and the training facilities are outstanding, all of which is a credit to the club’s chairman Mark Campbell.
“Mark’s ambitions for the club, both on and off the field, are infectious and have inspired me to come and work at Featherstone.”
Featherstone Rovers chairman Mark Campbell said: “Jon is the perfect coach to deliver the club on the next stage of our journey towards Super League.
“His knowledge of both the club and the game is second to none and we are delighted that he has accepted our offer to become head coach.
“We haven’t seen the best of Featherstone Rovers so far this season and I have no doubts that Jon will help us realise our potential in the weeks, months and years ahead.”
Sharp played for Featherstone in 1996 and 1997 having previously enjoyed a successful 11-season career at Hull FC. He was appointed coach of Featherstone Rovers Academy in 1998 and went to coach Huddersfield Giants and Crusaders.
He was also an assistant coach with Great Britain and has spent the last three years as head of match officials at the Rugby Football League.