AXED boss Jon Sharp says he is “stunned, shocked, gobsmacked” by his sudden exit from Featherstone Rovers.
The Kingstone Press Championship club were set to unveil a new coach today, little more than 24 hours after telling Sharp his services were no longer required.
Rovers are third in the table and preparing for a second successive campaign in the middle-eights Qualifiers and Sharp insisted he had been keen to stay on after his contract expired this autumn.
“I felt we were building something special,” said the former Huddersfield Giants coach, who took over at his hometown club midway through the 2015 season.
“There had been progress every year and that’s what’s disappointing – I have not been allowed to finish the journey.”
Rovers won the Championship Shield under Sharp in 2015 and were fourth on the league table last year.
They secured a return to the Qualifiers with two games in hand this term, but were beaten 28-8 at home by Halifax in Sharp’s final game as coach two days ago.
“We had achieved the objectives we were set, in terms of getting into the top-four,” Sharp added.
“I had planned to stay at the club, but I’ve not been allowed to continue and build on what we’ve already achieved.
“We are the only part-time team have have achieved back-to-back top-four finishes and the two clubs above us have spent double what we’ve spent, so we’ve done it on limited resources.”
Sharp, who has also coached at clubs including Batley Bulldogs, Wakefield Trinity, St Helens and Crusaders and been part of the Great Britain backroom staff, was the Rugby Football League’s head of referees before joining Rovers.
He said he is keen to get back into coaching as quickly as possible.
“I feel like I have plenty of energy left for this year,” he said.
“I love being a head coach, that’s what I do well, but I have missed being in Super League and working in a full-time environment.
“I would be prepared to go somewhere as an assistant-coach if it was the right club and the right head coach.”
In a club statement, Rovers chairman Mark Campbell said: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank Jon for his efforts over the past couple of years.
“A decision to bring in a new head coach for 2018 has been taken and we feel leaving Jon in charge for the Qualifiers, only for him to depart in October, would make little sense.
“He leaves with our best wishes and we now looking forward to seeing how our Super-8s campaign unfolds. We are aiming high and expect to leave a mark this time around.”
Sharp’s assistant Danny Evans – who has had several spells as Rovers’ caretaker-boss – and head of strength and conditioning Billy Mallinson have also left the club. John Duffy who left his role as coach at Swinton Lions yesterday is favourite for the job.