Halifax Panthers have confirmed that Liam Finn will be the man to replace Simon Grix as head coach from 2024, re-joining the club after getting Dewsbury Rams promoted as League 1 champions.
As previously reported by Love Rugby League, it’s expected that Grix’s departure will be made in order to link up with Super League outfit Hull FC as part of Tony Smith’s backroom team.
Grix guided the Panthers to an 1895 Cup final triumph over Batley Bulldogs at Wembley on Saturday, and he will remain in charge until the end of the season including any potential play-off fixtures.
His replacement has now been confirmed though, with Finn a man he and the club know very well.
Liam Finn makes Halifax return
Fax-born, Finn began his own playing days with his hometown team, pulling on the blue and white shirt between 2002 and 2003. H would go on to enjoy a near 20-year career which saw close to 500 appearances across seven different clubs.
The former utility forward is also Ireland’s joint-highest capped player ever on the international front, tied with Bob Beswick. Outright however, Finn holds the record for the most points posted for the ‘Boys in Green’.
Returning to Halifax as one of Grix’s assistants ahead of the 2022 season, he was lured away by a first head coach role midway through the season at Dewsbury, another of the clubs he’d pulled on a shirt for during his own playing days.
The Rams would go on to be relegated, but Finn has led them back to the Championship at the first time of asking this year, sealing the League 1 title recently.
Losing just one league game so far in 2023, the former Ireland captain will round off the season with Dewsbury as they face Doncaster later this month before taking over at the Shay in the off-season.
Simon Grix’s replacement Liam Finn: ‘I’ve developed a lot in the last 12 months’
Naturally, incoming Fax boss Finn spoke with glee about the opportunity to head up his hometown club. He also paid tribute to the time he’s spent with Dewsbury, explaining how the last year has helped mould him into a boss ready to take over at a Championship club with big ambitions.
The 39-year-old told the club’s website: “I’m absolutely delighted to take this position, and I’m just looking forward to getting started. It’s been a steep learning curve at Dewsbury and obviously completely different to being an assistant. A lot more decisions and a lot more conversations and awkward chats to have, a lot to more learn which has been really good.
“Going away from Halifax as assistant and stepping up to head coach at Dewsbury and learning that side of it, I feel like I’ve developed at lot in the last 12 months. I’m looking forward hopefully keeping up that improvement whilst I’m at this great club and hopefully, we have some more successful times.”
Meanwhile, outgoing head coach Grix shared his own delight for his old pal getting the chance to come in and take over at the Shay.
Giving the incoming head coach his backing, Grix added: “Liam is a great appointment for the club. He was one of many applicants, the interest in the job from far and wide was nice to hear.
“Liam, like myself, from Halifax, played for Halifax and now will take on the head coach role, which seems to have a bit of a trend at our club. I am sure he will do a fine job of it and keep us moving forward.
“He won’t have to reinvent the wheel, we are quite aligned on our views but he will be a fresh voice and have his own stamp on things. I will be around to support him if at all he needs it.”