Who next for Hull FC after Tony Smith exit? Analysing possible contenders to take charge


The first coaching casualty of the season in Super League has materialised, with Tony Smith leaving Hull FC by mutual consent on Thursday morning.

Smith has left the MKM Stadium following a dismal start to the season that has seen them win just once in all competitions. They are already out of the Challenge Cup, and appear to be drifting from the play-off race before April has even come to a conclusion.

And that has led the club to make a change – but where could they turn to next? Here’s a look at some possible contenders.

Simon Grix

Simon Grix Halifax Panthers Alamy

The man who has been placed in interim charge effectively has a period to show he’s capable of stepping up from assistant to head coach, it seems.

Grix enjoyed success at hometown club Halifax Panthers, guiding them to the 1895 Cup last year at Wembley before ultimately stepping down from that position to take a role as Smith’s assistant.

It would likely happen far sooner than anyone – Grix included – would have envisaged should he step up, but if he impresses in the interim period, he’ll give the Hull hierarchy a difficult decision to make.

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Justin Morgan

A man is perpetually and constantly linked with coaching roles in Super League – could Morgan land on the other side of the river in Hull, having enjoyed so much success at Rovers earlier in his career?

Morgan is currently assistant coach to Todd Payten at North Queensland Cowboys, but has applied for Super League coaching roles in recent years.

Whether the job of taking on a rebuild at Hull appeals to him – not least given his emotional ties to the Robins – remains to be seen, however.

Lee Briers

Lee Briers

Briers is earning rave reviews for his early steps in the coaching world – and was seen an integral part of the turnaround at Brisbane Broncos last year, as well as working alongside Matt Peet during his first season at Wigan Warriors.

He’s also been elevated into a role with the England coaching staff: and is the time now right for him to make his first move as a head coach? Whether Briers would fancy leaving Brisbane for a return to Super League with Hull remains to be seen: but he’ll no doubt be one individual the club look at as an option they admire.

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Nathan Brown

Another with ties to Super League following his work at Huddersfield Giants, Brown is out of work as things stand, and as such, may be more tempted than others by the challenge of rebuilding Hull’s fortunes.

Brown had a short stint as elite pathways coaching director at Parramatta Eels last year, also working as an advisor to the Eels’ NRLW side. However, he stepped down at the end of last year, with his family reportedly relocating to Queensland.

That could throw cold water on any return to England – but he has the coaching pedigree and the experience that Hull would certainly be looking for.

Josh Hannay

Josh Hannay

Hannay has been coaching for over a decade since bringing the curtain down on his playing career, and is seen by many in Australia as a future NRL coach.

But despite having interim spells in charge of two teams already, a head coaching role is yet to materialise. He has a wealth of coaching experience – and as the current Cronulla assistant, would likely get a good recommendation of Hull from their boss, former Black and Whites prop, Craig Fitzgibbon.

If he wants to take a step into coaching, perhaps Super League – and Hull – is a potential route. The only stumbling block? His role on the coaching staff of Queensland, which he’d have to vacate if he came to England. But clubs have gone down the route of hiring a promising NRL assistant coach before: they could easily do it again.

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