Hull FC have announced the appointment of Tony Smith as the club’s new head coach.
The former Huddersfield, Leeds, Warrington, and Hull KR head coach joins the club with immediate effect ahead of the club’s pre-season schedule getting underway in the Autumn.
One of the most experienced coaches in the sport, Smith has amassed over 500 career games as a head coach in the UK, and comes to the Black & Whites with a history of success over the last two decades.
After finishing a nine-year playing career with Workington Town, having enjoyed spells down under with the Illawarra Steelers and the St George Dragons, Smith took on his first coaching role in 2001 with Huddersfield Giants, before making the move to Yorkshire rivals Leeds in 2004.
Smith enjoyed four seasons of success with the Rhinos, leading the side to Grand Final victories in 2004 and 2007, as well as the 2005 World Club Challenge title as Leeds defeated Canterbury at Elland Road – he also picked up runners-up medals with defeats in the 2005 Grand Final, and Challenge Cup Final to the Black & Whites in Cardiff.
His success at Headingley saw him pick up the 2005 Super League Coach of the year Award, and subsequently made the move to the international scene at the end of the 2007 season by becoming the Great Britain head coach.
He was named the RLIF Coach of the Year before leading England to the semi-finals of the 2008 World Cup.
Moving onto Warrington in 2009, his success continued in his nine-year spell with the club, leading the Wolves to Challenge Cup successes in 2009, 2010, and 2012, as well as a League Leaders Shield in 2011.
Smith led the Wire to multiple more finals, including Grand Final appearances in 2012, 2013, and 2016, as well as the 2016 Challenge Cup Final against the Black & Whites – Smith would collect a second League Leaders Shield in the same season.
His most recent coaching spell came in the East of the city, taking over the reigns at Hull KR in 2019, leading the side to the Super League semi-finals the following season.
He surpassed the 500 game milestone earlier this season, before departing the Robins in the summer.
In his first interview since joining the club, Smith said: “It’s a great opportunity – one that I wasn’t expecting so soon, but I’m very grateful and excited to get started.
“I understand the challenges ahead, but the overwhelming feeling for me at the moment is excitement about restoring some pride in the club and taking us to some greater heights.
“In the past, I’ve had an association with the club through my family, and having lived in the city for a while, I’ve got a great understanding of how big the club is, and how much passion there is for the club to be successful.
“I’m looking forward to playing a part in the club’s great history, and hopefully we can create some more great memories for the future. I can’t wait to get started.”
Smith continued: “Super League is incredibly competitive, and success in sport isn’t always an easy thing to achieve – what it needs is everybody in the organisation on the same page, with plenty of positivity around the place. When that happens, you can achieve great things.
“I can guarantee a determination to restore this club to being a force in Super League, and we’ll endeavor to do that as quickly as possible.”
Hull’s new head coach also expressed his excitement at the club’s long term focus on nurturing homegrown talent, and the significant investment and ambition in developing a player pathway and facilities for the future.
The club’s Centre of Excellence goes from strength to strength, with the academy squad featuring in the play-off semi-finals later today, whilst the clubs full performance and community pathways will relocate to top-class facilities at the University of Hull this autumn.
Smith says he’s looking forward to helping help the development of some of the club’s younger stars.
“It’s an exciting vision and great to see so much young talent coming through at the club and being developed – I enjoy working with those younger players coming through and challenging the more senior players in the squad. Sometimes those guys can achieve some pretty good things and that keeps the rest of the squad on their toes.
“I see that as a real strength at the club, and we’re looking to create some heroes of the future here over the next few years.”
Smith will begin his role on Monday, with pre-season training set to commence in November.
Further additions to the coaching staff will be confirmed in due course.
Speaking on behalf of Hull FC, Chairman Adam Pearson, added: “We are pleased to welcome Tony to the club, a coach of undoubted calibre and experience with proven success in Super League.
“We have identified areas we feel we need to improve within our first-team environment and we believe Tony is well suited for that challenge.
“We are confident he will compliment the hard working and passionate people already at our club that are determined to return Hull FC to the position we believe it should be, and to meet the standards expected by our supporters and stakeholders.
“Tony is excited about the opportunity and the long-term vision we have for the club, we’re looking forward to getting to work with him.”