Experienced Steve Duncombe familiar with demands on Leeds Chiefs coach Sam Zajac

SHOULD Sam Zajac ever require a sympathetic ear during his first season as a rookie player-coach, there will be no shortage of offers in the Leeds Chiefs locker room.

Leeds Chiefs' defenceman 
Steve Duncombe. 
Picture: Steve Brodie
Leeds Chiefs' defenceman Steve Duncombe. Picture: Steve Brodie

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His summer recruitment ensured there was plenty of experience on the first-ever Chiefs’ roster, with experienced defenceman Steve Duncombe having first-hand knowledge of Zajac’s position.

The 34-year-old, who heads down to Romford IHC tomorrow looking for a first win of the season with his Chiefs’ team-mates, spent 15 months as player-coach at Blackburn Hawks and is all-too aware of the difficulties that come with the job.

TOUGH ROLE: Leeds Chiefs player-coach Sam Zajac gets to grips with the dual role against Telford Tigers. Picture courtesy of Steve Brodie

“I went there as a player initially and one thing led to another,” said Duncombe, who left Blackburn in January to finish the 2018-19 season with Sutton Sting.

“The coach got sacked and it was just a natural fit for me. I’d never tried it before but they asked me if I would take over the reins.

“I did enjoy it on the whole, but it is a very hard task. I don’t envy Sammy (Zajac) at all.

“You need somebody really good behind you to do that job because when you’re trying to play as well as coach it’s really difficult to see everything that’s going on on the ice.

“I do have a lot of sympathy for Sammy because I can relate to that role a lot.

“Anything I can do to help him, I’m obviously more than happy to. It’s one of the toughest jobs there is.”