Simon Woolford is the new Huddersfield Giants head coach on a two-and-a-half year contract.
The 43-year-old former Canberra Raiders hooker joins Super League for a first head coach job , having worked as assistant to Nathan Brown at Newcastle Knights in the NRL.
Woolford was tops from a candidate list of 20 and is likely to arrive from his home in Canberra to take charge of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie against Wakefield Trinity the week after next, because of visa delays.
Woolford says it will be a collective effort to turn the Giants around – they are now bottom following Catalans Dragons’ win over Hull FC – with his brief to keep the club out of the Betfred Championship for 2019.
“It’s a desperate situation because we are half way through the year and it’s a real battle for us to make sure we stay in Super League, but that’s the goal and that’s the challenge,” said Woolford, who has been to this country just once previously, to play in the World Club Challenge.
“Doing a bit of homework and talking to different people, it is definitely a squad with plenty of potential.
“Obviously they have had their issues with fitness and a lot of players on the sidelines at the moment, which hasn’t helped the cause.
“I see it as a challenge and a squad we can get a lot more out of.
“I am looking forward to getting over there, working with the guys, working hard and looking to earn their trust.
“When you get a group of guys working together and all with the same goal, then anything is possible.
“That is what I will be looking to do when I get over there.”
Woolford is realistic about the task ahead, and hopes to take the reins after interim head coach Chris Thorman has led the Giants into Friday’s clash at Widnes Vikings.
“The first goal is to turn things around and get players back out on the paddock,” he explained.
“We need to make sure we get guys like Jermaine McGillvary and Leroy Cudjoe fit and out on the paddock, and we need to make sure we are playing a style of footy in the run home that is going to bring us some success.
“Winning is a habit, just like losing is a habit, and if we can turn things around and get a couple of wins, get some confidence and get some players back out on the paddock, there is no reason why we can’t go on a little run.
“That could make sure are in that top eight or, if we don’t make it, we will certainly be ready and cherry ripe for the competition after that.
“First and foremost, that’s the goal.”
Woolford, a star with Canberra and with St George Illawarra as a player, says he is thankful for the chance offered by owner Ken Davy and the board and intends to reward them by achieving his remit.
“Ken has put a lot of time and a lot of money into the club and he just wants to see the Giants succeed again,” said Woolford.
“I am really thankful he has put his faith in me to come over and turn things around.
“I will work around the club and work my butt off to make sure we turn the club around, but it is going to be a collective effort from the board, the coaches and the players.
“We have to make sure we are all on the same page and working with one goal – firstly to stay in Super League and then to have some long-sustained success.”