Thornton to stay on as Hunslet coach

Gary Thornton has previously coached Batley Bulldogs, Doncaster and York City Knights
Gary Thornton has previously coached Batley Bulldogs, Doncaster and York City Knights
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Hunslet RLFC have confirmed Gary Thornton will be staying on as coach for 2018.

Thornton took over two months ago, following James Coyle’s departure, on a contract until the end of this season.

Hunslet are set to finish outside the top-eight in Kingstone Press League One, but Thornton has been given the go-ahead to build a squad for next year.

Club chief executive Martin Flynn said: “Gary has impressed the board with his passion, hard work and dedication since joining us at a difficult period.

“We see him as the man to push us forward to challenge at the right end of the table and the fact he’s so well respected in the game and has a vast knowledge of the leagues below Super League - plus has a lot of contacts in the semi professional game - made him the right man for the club.”

Thornton told the Yorkshire Evening Post earlier this week he was keen to stay on.

He said: “I’m really pleased to be given the opportunity to take the club forward into 2018.

“It was difficult coming into an environment halfway through a season and inheriting a squad of players and there have been some tough challenges to deal with along the way.

“Not making the top-eight is a huge disappointment and we all know as a group we have underperformed and let ourselves and the supporters down.

“But I’ve urged the players to use that disappointment in a positive manner and finish the season on a high note.

“There is a terrific band of enthusiastic supporters at this club and we owe it to them – and ourselves – to do that.”

He added: “Now the decision has been made, we can start making plans for 2018 and I’d like to thank the board for showing confidence in me to do that.

“I will be retaining my coaching staff of Gary Barnett and Mark Cass which will give some stability to the coaching set up and there are some really good, hard working people behind the scenes here too and together we will be working really hard to ensure 2018 is more successful.”

Of his plans for next year, Thornton said: “The current squad are all playing for contracts for next season, which will hopefully drive them on to perform well on the pitch in the remaining eight games.

“There are some quality, talented young players at this club and it is important we create an excellent environment and build a professional culture for them to thrive and improve in.

“As with any squad of players, some will stay, some will go and some new faces will come in.

“We need to generate genuine competition for places, to build a competitive squad going forward.

“We all recognise that there needs to be an improvement next season, and hopefully I can put a squad of players together to take the club forward in the right direction.”

Tommy Brierley’s spell on loan from York City Knights has been extended until the end of the season, but Michael Hayward has returned to Batley Bulldogs and Luke Fowden to Rochdale Hornets.

Prop Matt Carbutt has retired due to work reasons.

Hunslet's Liam MacKay slips through the Gloucestershire defence earlier this season. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

Hunslet stars rapped for disappointing campaign

Gary Thornton.

Hunslet RLFC: Thornton keen to stay on as head coach