Why Wakefield Trinity is breath of fresh air for former Hull FC coach Andy Last
Granted, moving on was hard; Last ended a 23-year association with hometown Hull just before Christmas.
He had worked in various roles with the East Yorkshire club in that time and, after Lee Radford’s sacking last March, had stepped up from No 2 to take over as interim head coach.
Last hoped to have done enough to secure the role on a permanent basis, especially having guided the Black and Whites to the Super League semi-finals.
However, they instead opted for Australian Brett Hodgson who did not require the 39-year-old in his first-team coaching set-up.
That left Last with a decision to make; although the club created him a new role, he opted to leave and join their Super League rivals.
Now fully absorbed in pre-season training with Trinity, and the daily commute along the M62, he said: “It has been a big change but one, looking on it now, that I needed.
“It’s been really, really good for my own development, a breath of fresh air in terms of getting to know new players, stepping out of my comfort zone and the security blanket of hometown Hull FC, and working with new members of staff.
“It’s probably something I wouldn’t have done if I didn’t feel as though I had to make that move for my career.
“Although it was tough and gut-wrenching to make that decision and leave a club that I supported and worked for all my working life, ultimately I feel it will be the right decision in the long run for my own career and development.
“After the initial shock and disappointment that I didn’t quite do enough to get the head coach job, the conversation I had with (Hull owner) Adam (Pearson) and James (Clark) was a good one. They spoke about not wanting to lose me to the organisation and wanted to create me a role where it felt my skill set could be utilised for the benefit of Hull FC.
“But it just didn’t feel right for my own career point of view to do that; it was taking a step sideways/backwards and after the job I did – and how I felt comfortable in that position – I felt I’d have been under-selling my skill set.”
That is true especially when you consider Last was also named last year as one of Shaun Wane’s England assistants for the 2021 World Cup.
With his attention-to-detail, tactical awareness and depth of experience, he is a major addition to the West Yorkshire club who are looking to bounce back after a disappointing couple of seasons.
But is Last looking forward to not having the 24/7 toil of head coach duties to worry about?
“Yes, that is the nice side of being an assistant; you don’t carry that weight of expectation and that pressure that comes with the top job,” he said.
“But that’s something I feel I’ll be a better assistant to Chris for – having that experience of being in that hot seat the seven months I did it as I can appreciate and understand certain pressures that come with that position.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to take some of that pressure away from Chris by doing certain things on the training field and leading alongside Willie so that Chris can focus on just being the best head coach he can possibly be and that relationship is evolving.
“We’re working well together; the three of us have good experience, we get on really, really well, have similar philosophies and beliefs on how we think the game should be played and so far I’ve really enjoyed what we’re doing in the first five weeks on board.”
Hull’s loss could certainly be Wakefield’s gain in 2021.
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