Stankevitch to coach the Russians

Former St Helens Star John Stankevitch will join the coaching team for the Russian International Rugby League side for this Autumn’s World Cup Qualifiers.

The 31 year old, whose playing career was shattered by an illegal tackle whilst playing for St Helens against Wigan in 2003 is widely seen as one of the UK’s rising coaching talents. He is currently Head Coach of Co-operative Championship 1 side, Rochdale Hornets and has been connected with several vacant Super League and Championship coaching positions over recent weeks.

John will team up with the squad in Moscow in early October and will be assistant coach to former Wigan Warriors Assistant Stuart Wilkinson, but will become Head Coach for the final two qualifying games after Wilkinson steps down after the game against Italy.

The ‘Bears’ have been drawn in a group alongside Italy, Serbia & Lebanon with the winner earning the right to play in Group C of the 2013 World Cup, alongside Scotland and Tonga.

“I’m aware that Russian Rugby League has a long history and also a massive amount of potential and they are something of a sleeping giant. Russia is the largest country in the World and getting involved at this time is a very exciting prospect.” Said John. 

“Becoming involved in an international team again has been a major goal of mine for sometime now and being part of the RFL’s coach mentor programme has meant that I can be put forward for exciting roles such as this”. He said.John admits to not knowing much about Rugby League in Russia, but wants to see his new team qualify for their second World Cup in two years time. “Stuart (Wilkinson) has brought me up to date with regards to the details of the squad and I am more than confident that we’ll be lining up against Scotland and Tonga in two years time.”

John is of Lithuanian heritage and his Great-Grandfather moved to the UK from the city of Kaunas in the late 19th Century, settling in the Cheshire town of Widnes.

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