McCormack takes over at Gateshead

Gateshead have appointed former Widnes and Whitehaven boss Steve McCormack as Head Coach.

McCormack, who was sacked by Widnes after the opening game of the 2009 season in February, is the current coach of the Scotland National Team and has coached in Super League with Salford.

He said: “I feel refreshed after 3 months out of the game and I am raring to go. I am really excited about this opportunity at Gateshead Thunder. When [club owner] Steve Garside approached me, it didn’t take long to make my mind up and I can’t wait to meet the players and staff and get on with the job. That starts with a tough 5th Round Challenge Cup match against Oldham at Darlington Arena on Saturday.

“I have seen a lot of the players playing before. Team Captain, Andrew Henderson, was with me at Salford and also at Scotland at the recent Rugby League World Cup in Australia. I was keen to bring Luke Branighan to Whitehaven when I was Head Coach there and my teams have played against a lot of the current Thunder players in Northern Rail Cup matches. There is a good platform to build on.

“I have spoken with Chris Hood in detail and I am looking forward to working with him. I met [Thunder Chief Executive] Rod Findlay at the Super League Magic Weekend in Edinburgh yesterday and talked through the club’s ambitions. This is a really big opportunity.”

McCormack coached Scotland in the World Cup in Australia last autumn, guiding them to an impressive 18-16 win over Fiji.

Club Owner Steve Garside stated: “Appointing additional coaching staff and someone of Steve McCormack’s pedigree is a real good news story for Thunder. The Board took the view that with so many players taking the step up a level for the first time it would be beneficial to have additional input and experience. Steve McCormack has years of experience at Super League and Championship level and will be a great asset in establishing Gateshead Thunder as a strong force in the Co-operative Championship and then building for the next level.”

Chris Hood will return to the assistant head coach role he had previously held for five years before succeeding Dave Woods, who left the club in December.

He said: “I recognize and respect the experience that Steve McCormack has. We have spoken in detail and I am very keen to work with him to build on the start that we have had to the season so far. The most important thing is a successful Thunder. I will give my all to Steve as his Assistant.”

Hood, 28, is a former student of Northumbria University. Chris was a Gateshead Thunder Academy player in Thunder’s first season in 1999. Hood was first appointed Assistant Coach of Gateshead Thunder in 2004 and has been with the club ever since. Hood was also former England Universities Head Coach and GB Students Assistant Coach

Thunder’s two other coaches, Alan Dickinson and former Club Captain Steve Rutherford will also remain with the club.

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