Craig Sandercock never become a fans’ favourite at Hull Kingston Rovers, it’s fair to say.
The Australian, a reserved and cautious character, sometimes seemed a little highly strung and easy to wind up. One shudders to think how he might have reacted to a Nathan Brown style ‘war of words’ if someone had put him in their sights.
He certainly did not have the easy-going charisma of his predecessor Justin Morgan, a man who will always be viewed with affection by the vast bulk of Rovers supporters.
Sandercock’s team never really captured the imagination either. There were flashes of ispiration from time to time, but Rovers never displayed any real resilience under Sandercock’s leadership.
Flakey defence and questionable commitment to the cause from certain players were recurring themes. Bad luck with injuries did not help, but, to paraphrase Napoleon, clubs need lucky coaches as well as good coaches.
We can never know what goes in the dressing room properly, and long may it stay that way, but there was never really the sense at Rovers during Sandercock’s reign that the club was one unified and united band of brothers.
Rumours early on in his tenure suggested that players were less than enthused with his methods. There was a fairlyy large turnover of players.
Reports in East Yorkshire also suggest that some players in the team were unhappy at Kris Welham’s recent treatment, with the centre sent to play for Gateshead Thunder on loan.
Players believed that Welham suffered while others were left out of the firing line for recent inconsistent displays.
In the end, that was what cost Sandercock his job – inconsistency.
While Rovers have produced some memorable displays with the Australian at the helm, a nd some derby victories over Hull FC will be particularly fondly recalled, they have never looked like seriously challenging the top four sides.
What will live in the memory probably as long as the derby wins is the record 84-6 defeat to Wigan in 2013 too.
The reality is that Rovers have not really progressed at all since he took over. They are still a mid-table team, who are struggling to reach the top eight this season, which was pretty much where they were when Justin Morgan left.
One senses that that is simply not good enough for Neil Hudgell, a man who passionately believes that Rovers can recpature the glory days of the the early 1980s. He has also spent plenty of his own money in pursuit of that dream, and it must be frustrating to forever be in touching distance of better days, without ever reaching them.
So Rovers are now in the hands of Chris Chester, and another young British coach gets the chance to test himself in Super League. If he grasps the opportunity, it could take his career to another level.
It would certainly help if he could inspire some passion and pride in the jersey once again, qualities which at times have been sadly lacking at KR under Sandercock.
There has been talk of the youth development programme strengthened under Sandercock, and his effect on some of KR’s younger players has been demonstrably positive. Jordan Cox, Josh Hodgson and, latterly, Kevin Larroyer, have all measurably improved under his tutelage.
That work will be Sandercock’s true legacy to the club, and one to be celebrated. It is perhaps a shame for him, however, that now someone else will reap the benefits.