Jon Wilkin expects ‘deluge’ of candidates for Hull FC job as he identifies major IMG flaw

Ross Heppenstall

Sky Sports pundit Jon Wilkin has suggested that Hull FC have fallen victim to an ‘unintended consequence’ of IMG’s gradings system – prioritising off-field growth over on-field talent.

Wilkin was speaking exclusively to Love Rugby League following the sacking of Tony Smith last week, with the club having recorded just one win all season.

The Black and Whites are expected to move fast in their pursuit of a replacement for Smith – and Wilkin has stated that the IMG grading criteria simply does not lend itself to club being ambitious in the transfer market.

He told Love Rugby League: “Under IMG’s proposals, maybe on-field performance and investment in players it not as high a priority as it once was.

“Hull FC could finish ninth or 10th again this season and still be guaranteed a place in Super League. An unintended consequence of IMG is that clubs can just take stock financially and not invest on the field as maybe they should.

“I think that’s reflected in the Hull FC squad – they let their best player in Adam Swift go to HuddersfieldHull’s squad is okay, but it’s certainly not a top-six squad.”

As Hull FC search for Smith’s successor, Wilkin added that he felt there would be an ‘absolute deluge’ of applicants to take charge at the MKM Stadium. 

He believes the club have ‘lost their way’ and suggested they should go down the route of entrusting a young coach looking for their first role as a head coach.

He said: “There are a couple of coaches over in Australia who are under big pressure and could soon be looking for work shortly.

READ MORE: ‘Not a coaching problem’ – Jon Wilkin offers damning Hull FC verdict after Tony Smith sacking

“There will be an absolute deluge of applicants for it because there are so few head coaching jobs in rugby league. I remember being at St Helens when the club appointed Justin Holbrook and feeling just a bit underwhelmed by it.

“It proved one of the greatest coaching acquisitions in the club’s history, almost, so I wouldn’t be against Hull FC going for someone who is looking or their first opportunity.

“Someone with ambition and the ability to develop young talent – but the club’s ambition needs to be elevated. If it’s not, then there needs to be a transparency towards the fans about where they’re actually at.

“I’d urge the fans to keep faith because it’s a club with such history and heritage and culture surrounding it. They have certainly lost their way, though, and I don’t think anyone could disagree with that.”

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