Featherstone Rovers sack Sean Long; James Ford to lead promotion charge

George Riley
Sean Long Featherstone Rovers Championship SWpix

Photo: John Clifton/SWpix

Championship leaders Featherstone Rovers have sacked head coach Sean Long after Sunday’s defeat at Halifax Panthers.

Rovers are eight points clear at the top with just six games of the regular season remaining, but believe a change needs to be made immediately to give the club the best possible chance of gaining promotion to Super League for the first time.

Director of Rugby James Ford will take charge for the rest of the season. Ford departed Super League outfit Wakefield Trinity earlier in the campaign.

The 25-22 loss at Halifax was Rovers’ second of the season following their home defeat by second-placed Toulouse back in June. After that defeat, assistant boss Leon Pryce departed.

Love Rugby League understands the board at Post Office Road had recently become concerned at the team’s performances against their promotion rivals and have moved to make a change straight away by relieving Long of his duties in a bid to leave “no stone unturned” in their bid for a place in Super League.

Great Britain legend Long was in his first season as a head coach after succeeding Brian McDermott as Rovers boss.

Featherstone Rovers sack Sean Long

A club statement read: “We can confirm that we have today reached agreement with Head Coach Sean Long to part company with immediate effect.

“The Club has invested significantly this year to ensure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of promotion to Super League in 2023. The introduction of criteria that come into effect from 2024 make it extremely difficult to reach this goal in future years so we are committed to ensure that we leave no stone unturned in delivering this objective.

“The Board have backed this ambition by investing in a playing squad of Super League quality and have been disappointed therefore in this season’s team performance against some of our promotion rivals.

“As we reach the countdown to the play-off series, we need to ensure that we maximise the huge potential and high quality of our playing roster and we feel this change will enable us to make the required step up which is required

“We would like to place on record our thanks to Sean Long for his contribution to the club’s efforts this season and wish him well in the future.

“We would ask our fans to continue to support the club in their usual way just as they did in such large numbers at Halifax yesterday, we certainly will need their support in hopefully helping us to get over the line this year.

“We have asked Director of Rugby James Ford to take up the Head Coaching role on an interim basis for the remainder of the year along with Ian Hardman, the club will make a further assessment of whether we need to invest further in our coaching team.”

Long NOT in contact with Warrington Wolves

Featherstone were knocked out of the playoffs at the semi-final stage by Batley Bulldogs last year, but have led the standings this season since day one.

Long meanwhile has been linked with Warrington Wolves’ move for Sam Burgess, with reports suggesting he could move to the Halliwell Jones Stadium as assistant coach should Burgess be named head coach.

Love Rugby League understands however there has been no contact between Warrington and Long.

READ NEXT: Casualty Ward – Concern for Cust, Leigh unscathed & Hopoate, Langi, Sutcliffe latest