Ex-Bradford coach heads to ‘delighted’ Midlands Hurricanes

James Gordon
Mark Dunning, SWPix

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Midlands Hurricanes have appointed former Bradford boss Mark Dunning as their new head coach.

Dunning departed Odsal after 10 years of service earlier this month by mutual consent, and he will take charge of the Hurricanes after their game against Doncaster this weekend.

Currently eighth in League 1 with two wins from eight games, the Hurricanes have a weekend off following the Dons match giving Dunning a couple of weeks to spend with his new team.

Chief executive Greg Wood said: “We are over the moon with Mark’s appointment, and I am sure with his background and credentials in the game he will bring with him a high level of professionalism along with his undoubted technical and tactical knowledge which will drive us forward on the field.

“There’s no doubt we have a team and squad that is full of ability and potential and I firmly believe with Mark’s appointment he will be the man to bring that together and get us the results that have been alluding us so far this season.”

New challenge after 10 years at Bradford

Dunning had been in charge of the first team at Bradford for barely a year, succeeding John Kear. Following a successful spell as interim, he was appointed permanent head coach by the Bulls in July 2022.

But his stint in charge ended after three successive defeats, including a 26-0 humbling by Halifax in the Challenge Cup, with the 46-12 defeat away at Barrow his last game.

Dunning departed with a win percentage of 45% during his time in charge, and earlier this season posted encouraging wins over Widnes, Toulouse, Sheffield and Halifax.

Another win came against his new club in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup.

Prior to his appointment, Dunning had served as assistant coach and coach of the club’s reserve side.

When he left Odsal, Dunning said: “Having been at the club 10 years it has been a honour and privilege to lead the club as head coach.

“I would like to thank the performance staff, some often going above and beyond, and the players and I wish all concerned the very best for the future.

“To the fans who have followed the club far and wide, loud and proud, I thank you and hope you get the success you badly crave.”

Bringing professionalism and discipline to Midlands Hurricanes

It was reported soon after that he was keen to make an immediate return to rugby league.

Dunning said of his appointment: “I am looking to bring a professionalism and discipline to the club, some guidance and clarity to players and some connectivity to the whole club. What excited me most about the opportunity is the vision and understanding of the board with a realistic ambition and burning desire to succeed.

“I immediately understood and bought into all of this and I am looking forward to the journey ahead for everyone connected to the Hurricanes.”

Midlands parted company with Richard Squires little over a week ago.

Under the guidance of assistant coach Liam Welham, the Hurricanes were beaten 50-16 at home by Oldham at the weekend, despite the score being level at half time.

The club is in their second season under the Midlands Hurricanes brand, having previously been known as Coventry Bears.

Earlier this year, they made a move to the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, and their average crowd is just under 500.

They have managed six wins in each of the past two seasons under the stewardship of Squires.

A short Twitter post confirmed the appointment of Dunning on Wednesday morning.

It read: “We are delighted to confirm Mark Dunning is the new Hurricanes Head Coach!

“Mark was most recently the Head Coach at Bradford Bulls and has a wealth of experience from his 10+ years of coaching at the club. We can’t wait for you to get stuck in, Mark!”

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