Raiders name Neil Henry new NRL coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Raiders name Neil Henry new NRL coach

By Steve Jancetic and Todd Balym 10/04/2006 07:40:17 PM Comments (0)

The NRL coaching merry-go-round has finally come to a grinding halt, with Canberra confirming North Queensland assistant Neil Henry as the man to take over from Matthew Elliott in the nation's capital next season.

Raiders chief executive Simon Hawkins said Henry was the standout applicant amongst the host of candidates, which included former Melbourne and Cronulla coach Chris Anderson and former New Zealand Warriors mentor Daniel Anderson, claiming he was the only person offered the job after being the sole applicant interviewed.

"Basically, his reputation is quite extraordinary," Hawkins said.

"In rugby league circles he's very well known, well respected.

"(North Queensland coach) Graham Murray has been singing his praises up there for quite a while now. In the end the choice was easy."

Henry's three-year deal is the last piece in the coaching puzzle following an amazing scramble for positions next season with Elliott's move from the Raiders to the Penrith and the switch of roles between Parramatta's Brian Smith and Newcastle's Michael Hagan.

Murray has frequently touted Henry as having a brilliant tactical mind, while Queensland State of Origin coach Mal Meninga, who also has Henry on his support staff, also recommended to the Raiders.

Hawkins dismissed claims Henry's low profile would hinder the club's ability to lure top class talent to the Canberra.

"Originally we were maybe thinking of going with a high profile coach, but in the end Neil had so much respect in rugby league circles that it was hard to go past him," Hawkins said.

"He's well connected, they say the players know a lot about him and he does have a lot of respect."

Henry said the offer to coach at the highest level and to return home was too hard to resist, having been a foundation member with the Raiders in the early 1980s.

"It's been a goal of mine and I didn't know if I would ever achieve it, but I'm going to have a crack at it now," Henry said.

"I know some of the players, have coached some players down there and am going back to a region I am very comfortable with."

"We have family down there and have lived down there so I'm going back home in some respects and am looking forward to it."

Hawkins said Henry was never asked to come down to Canberra before November 1.

It was earlier claimed that whoever the Raiders brought in would work together with Elliott for the remainder of this season in a similar way to which Elliott was groomed for the role with previous coach Meninga.

"It wasn't even discussed, I didn't mention it, he didn't mention it. We were just seeking to fill a position for next year so that's all we talked about," Hawkins said.

"He'll have an interest in what's going on next year, but having said that he's working for North Queensland, we respect that and we wouldn't want to do anything to compromise that."

Henry felt the appointment was due reward for his years of hard work in the lower grades and as an assistant, and said he wasn't daunted by the enormity of the task at hand.

"I'm not the first and won't be last to go from assistant to head coach," Henry said.

"It shows faith in the system that you can do your apprenticeship and coach at one level then you can step up and hopefully I can do that."

"It gives a little bit of hope to assistant coaches out there."

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