KR does best with big characters: Chester was not the right man

Chris Chester never looked entirely comfortable at Hull KR, and it is perhaps not that surprising that the club have removed him from his post just three games into the 2016 season.

Chester never really hit the heights during his time in charge. When he did, as with the Challenge Cup semi-final win over Warrington last year, the glory soon got swallowed up by another catastrophe.

In the case of the Cup campaign, any gloss was taken off the day by being humped 50-0 by Leeds at Wembley. That was an abject performance, which really spoiled what should have been a wonderful day out for the club’s intensely passionate fans.

Certainly, alarm bells started ringing for many fans after that debacle. If Chester couldn’t seem to motivate his players to play at Wembley, then could he motivate and prepare them at all?

The Qualifiers section of the Super 8s was negotiated safely and uninspiringly by Rovers, whose players were clearly performing at a level which was beneath most of them.

They never really dominated Championship teams in the way they should have done, though, and the campaign left an unsatisfactory feeling for many fans, even though the team won every game and topped the Qualifiers.

There never seemed to be a renewal of enthusiasm over the winter, either. Instead, the close season seemed full of concern over players’ injuries.

Even Chester himself acknowledged that he was one of the favourites for the sack, before the season had even started.

Pre-season results were awful, with Rovers getting scalped by Hull FC and Huddersfield.

Rovers scraped a home draw with Castleford on the first day of the season, with the players reacting and celebrating like they had won – never a good look, not really.

Recruitment seems to have been patchy over Chester’s reign, with the forward pack still missing a consistent and aggressive enforcer.

Mitch Allgood seems to be always injured, Dane Tilse seems too nice to be a top front rower, and Rob Mulhern is only at the beginning of his career. It’s probably best not to mention Adam Walker’s current off-field problems.

Terry Campese is undoubtedly an important and high-quality player, but one has to ask what is the point of giving him a long-term deal with his injury record being what it is.

The club is also struggling to produce enough youngsters of its own of genuine Super League quality, with too many Rovers academy products now plying their trade outside the top tier of the game.

Hull KR do best when they have big characters at the club – men in the dugout and the team who can inspire and galvanise the club’s big and passionate (though occasionally fractious) support.

The temperament of east Hull is rough and ready, loyal and staunch, but also ready to speak up when things are wrong, to protest and to get annoyed when they feel the team is not living up to their own standards of commitment.

Players say how inspiring it is to play in front of Rovers’ famous East Stand crowd, but too often over the last few years they have simply not lived up to the fans’ backing.

Chester followed the technocratic Craig Sandercock at Rovers. The Australian was an often vulnerable looking character who, like Chester, never seemed to really galvanise and unify staff, players and supporters behind one cause.

That was what Justin Morgan managed when he was in charge at Rovers. And he had big characters to call on. There is no one remotely like Stanley Gene in this current Rovers side.

Rovers need a real leader to get them sorted out. Football manager Jamie Peacock will undoubtedly be tasked with finding the next coach for the club.

Hopefully Peacock’s presence will help with the process of bringing in the right man.

Super League needs both Hull teams to be performing well, and tapping into the reservoir of talent which the city of Hull offers.

Massive pressure and massive expectations hang in the air at the KC Lightstream stadium. It needs a big man to handle them.

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