The Papua New Guinean became a cult hero with the Robins’ fans during his play days in the red and white shirt, notching up an incredible 104 tries in 150 appearances from two separate stints. During that time he had many highlights with one of the most memorable coming when he scored the final try in a 42-6 humbling of Hull FC at the KC Stadium in 2007 – a victory that secured the club’s place in Super League for a second successive season.
Gene also enjoyed a well-deserved Testimonial year with the Robins during 2008 and is revered amongst the Rovers’ supporters as a true legend.
They’ll be delighted to see him back where it all began some 15 years ago and he’s certainly over the moon to be back at a place that he regards as his second home.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “After I retired I talked about staying here and when I went back home, that desire to be back at the club started to become stronger.
“There’s obviously been a lot going on around the place with Justin (Morgan) going, Craig (Sandercock) coming in and plenty of player movement as well. I’m just delighted to be back at the club where it all started for and am looking forward to putting something back after all Hull Kingston Rovers has given me.”
Gene’s return to Craven Park was instigated by a phone call to him from new Head Coach, Craig Sandercock, and once the pair had met up, there was only ever going to be one outcome.
“Craig is a great bloke with some very good ideas,” Gene added. “I’ve heard him say that he’s going to go back to basics with some of the training and that’s good as it’s something I strongly believe in myself.
“I’m looking forward to working with him as he has a particularly good reputation of working with the younger players and when he rang and asked if I’d be interested in coming on board I was absolutely thrilled. I did quite a lot of coaching with some semi-pro teams back home but this is my first job where I’ll be involved with a club on a daily basis and I just can’t wait to get started.”
With the likes of Scott Taylor, Liam Watts, Kris Welham, Sam Latus, Jordan Cox and Louis Sheriff having come through the academy system at the club in recent times, there is no shortage of emphasis on youth and Gene is looking forward to nurturing the next generation of talented youngsters.
“There is some terrific young talent at the club and a few of the lads who have come through the U18s in the past couple of years are now playing a bit of first team football,” he continued. “Coaching the U18s will be a good challenge for me and one that I’m massively looking forward to.
“You have to start somewhere and what better place for me to start than at Hull KR which is where it all began for me as player. You’ve still got guys like Billy Mallinson and Chris Chester around, whilst Kev Deighton has been a mentor to me since I finished playing and started to look into the coaching side of things. I’ll obviously be able to bounce stuff off all of those guys, plus a few more, and hopefully we can take the young kids forward and help them progress.”