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11th January 2019, 18:44 | Huddersfield

Willie Poching to join Huddersfield coaching staff

Willie Poching to join Huddersfield coaching staff

Huddersfield Giants have appointed New Zealand-born coach Willie Poching to their backroom staff and are poised to bring centre or second rower Joe Wardle back to the club.

Poching, 45, who played for Wakefield Wildcats and Leeds Rhinos before spending time as an assistant coach with the Rhinos, Warrington Wolves, Hull Kingston Rovers and Salford City Reds, will be part of a new-look backroom team at the John Smith's Stadium in 2019, initially on a part-time basis.

The Giants, who appointed head coach Simon Woolford last April, parted company with his assistant Chris Thorman at the end of last season and have since brought in former full-back Scott Grix from Wakefield as specialist outside backs coach.

“We have been looking around for some help for a few weeks now and Willie was keen to get back into the game after a short break,” Woolford said. “I think we’ll be a good fit for each other.

“I played against Willie back in the 90s when he was at Hunter Mariners.

“He’s worked in Super League for 12 years under people like Tony Smith and brings a lot of experience to the table which will be valuable for us all here.”

Grix, 34, has not been given a squad number but will provide cover at full-back for 21-year-old Darnell McIntosh, who has inherited the number one jersey from the departed Jake Mamo.

“Even though he’s at the back end he might be able to add something to us if needed but at the moment he is doing a fantastic job as an outside backs coach and our academy coach,” Woolford said.

Meanwhile, talks are continuing to finalise a swap deal with Castleford Tigers that will unite the 27-year-old Wardle with his younger brother Jake.

Wardle senior left Huddersfield two years ago to try his luck in the NRL with Woolford’s old club Newcastle but returned to England after just 12 months and signed a three-year deal with Castleford.

Now he is set to return to the John Smith’s Stadium in exchange for Australian utility back Jordan Rankin, who has fallen down the pecking order at the Giants.

Huddersfield’s former New Zealand Warriors prop Sebastine Ikahihifo had been linked with a move to the Tigers but Woolford says he remains in his plans for the new season.

“Cas did entertain the idea of swapping him for Wardle but it never really grew any legs and we feel comfortable with that,” said Woolford at the Giants’ annual sponsors lunch.

“We feel we could do with some more depth in the outside backs and back row and that’s what Joe will give us.

“Sebastine is well and truly in our plans this year. He came back a little bit under-done and I was a little disappointed there but I’ve had a couple of good talks with him and he knows that, while he’s here, we’re going to work with him to get the best out of him.

“He’s really knuckled down and trained hard the last two or three weeks.”