Eamon O’Carroll appointed Newcastle Thunder head coach

Newcastle Thunder have appointed Eamon O’Carroll as their new head coach on a two-year deal.

The 33-year-old’s coaching career began at Widnes where he was assistant to Denis Betts, who is now director of rugby at Newcastle. O’Carroll has been assistant to Steve McNamara at Catalans since November 2018.

O’Carroll made 149 appearances for Wigan, Hull and Widnes as well as earning six caps for Ireland between 2005-17.

O’Carroll said: “I’m really looking forward to starting with Thunder. It’s all a bit manic at the moment getting packed up and ready to come back over to England, but I’m excited and want to meet everyone at the club as soon as possible.

“Even before speaking to Denis I was aware of Thunder’s aspirations, as I think most people in the game are and I’m excited to be part of that.

“I’m particularly interested in working with the academy and bringing local lads into the first team, as seeing players develop is a great satisfaction.

“Its important to get to know people on a personal level to get the best from them. At the Dragons, that was important dealing with players and different cultures.

“At Thunder I’m going to be working with a mix of players, some who have been pros and full-time for the last ten years and some who work full-time and then come to training, so I’ll adapt to get the best from everyone.

“As a coach, I focus on the fundamentals of the game. I really value the importance of defence but Thunder are a team with skilful players and a lot of ability and I’m not looking to come in and take anything away. Of course I’m going to bring some things in, but I’m looking forward to this being a collective effort.”

Betts has also agreed a new deal with Thunder which will see him remain at Kingston Park until at least the end of 2022.

Betts said: “Since joining Thunder I’ve had a fire in my belly and a feeling for rugby league that I’d not had in a while.

“I’m part of something special with a great owner and chairman, a staff who have a real love for the game and a drive to make the club as successful as it can be.

“That drive and desire is infectious and every time I am at Kingston Park there is nothing that disappoints. It’s fantastic to see the players grow and what we are doing to put ourselves in position to achieve our final ambitions.”

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