PAUL Crook has joined Oldham’s coaching staff in a new dual role that will see him registered as a player while also working alongside head coach Scott Naylor and his No 2 Pete Carey.
Stand-off Crook (32), PE teacher and a head-of-year at a St Helens secondary school, sees his transition from player to coach to be a natural one although he isn’t ready yet to hang up his boots.
He’s signed a one-year player-coach contract with an option for a second year — an agreement which he says is “a two-year deal to all intents and purposes.”
Like many of his Roughyeds colleagues, he opted to stay at Oldham despite overtures from elsewhere, including a move by Rochdale where, in a seven-year stay, he rattled up 1,499 points to set a club record that had remained intact since 1934.
“For a while now I’ve been thinking about coaching when I finish playing.
“The opportunity I was offered by Chris (club chairman Chris Hamilton) and Scott (head coach Scott Naylor) to play AND have some coaching input and responsibility at the same time dovetailed nicely with my plans for the future.
“I had a couple of other options, but I thoroughly enjoyed my first season at Oldham and that was just one of a few reasons why I signed to stay.
“To be honest we were all disappointed with where we finished last season and I didn’t want to leave on that note.
“I wanted to be part of a squad and a club that would redeem itself in 2019 and put right last season’s wrongs.
“Another big factor was the opportunity to get into coaching and to work alongside men of the calibre of Scott and Pete. That was a massive factor.
“I like the idea of having an input, seeing what I can do and testing whether coaching really is something for me.”
Last season he and his half-back partner Dave Hewitt each figured in 28 out of 30 games, more than any other player.
“Paul had offers from other clubs, including the Championship, but his experience on and off the field is invaluable and that was very important to us.
“He was keen to get on the coaching ladder so he will be doing coaching alongside Peter and me while continuing to play.
“It’s a good chance for him to get into coaching and hopefully it will be the start of a new chapter in his rugby career and one that will see him coaching for years to come and getting as much enjoyment out of it as we do.
“He will still be an important member of the squad but I’ve no doubt he will have his own opinions about training and coaching.
“On the occasions he isn’t playing it will be good to have a different voice in the dressing room and on the training pitch.”