Sheens is enthused by eager young charges
WITH HIS incessant drive, boundless enthusiasm and sheer determination to succeed, it is easy to forget Hull KR head coach Tim Sheens has been in rugby league for over half-a-century.
Now aged 67, you might think the veteran Australian would want to be taking things slower.
As yet another season approaches and the former Canberra Raiders chief prepares to challenge himself and his squad once more, what is it that underpins that insatiable appetite – a simple, innate love of the game?
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Sheens admitted: “Well, of course it is. I’ve been involved in the sport since I was seven years old, so it’s done everything for me.
“I’ve travelled the world, I’ve met some fabulous people, I’ve worked with some fabulous people.
“For me it’s a pleasure to turn up with these guys, the new generation of young men who 100 per cent want to be there.
“You’ve never not got anyone at training who doesn’t want to be there.
“There’s the odd guy who doesn’t like how hard it might be but, overall everyone there wants to be there.
“At KR, too, we have a lot of travellers; people who travel a long distance to play with us and do that every second day.
“We have a big travelling group (from West Yorkshire), so the lads have their own small mini-bus that brings them in all together.
“That desire to be there helps fuel me.
“On the odd day that I’m not feeling up to springing out of bed, you’ve got all those young guys who want to be there and the coaching staff is terrific, too.”
The weeks of planning and preparation over this latest offseason, not to mention the graft put in to bounce straight back out of the Championship last season, will all come to fruition as Rovers begin life in Super League again when Wakefield Trinity visit for their campaign opener on Friday.
For the red and white army of fans, playing top-flight rugby league once more after their year in exile, will be all the more exciting.
But Sheens – who led the Kangaroos to the 2013 World Cup – insists he will not get caught up in what should be a rejoiceful night.
“Obviously the occasion is going to be bigger,” he said.
“But for me, coaching is coaching, and it doesn’t matter who you are coaching or where and when.
“I’ve been involved a long time and I don’t get ruffled by too many things.
“We got a good response at home last year with the crowds’ support. They were terrific with their numbers. I don’t know whether we’ll get any more on Friday. Obviously there’s more intensity and a little bit more pressure (in Super League), but we were tipped to win it (Championship) last year so we’ve played under that pressure.
“We’ve only been tipped to come second-last this season…”
Many people have predicted Rovers will be straight back into a relegation battle again this year but it is irrelevant in his eyes.
“You wouldn’t think War- rington would be in the Middle Eights last year or Leeds the year before,” he said.
“This is the good thing about our sport; you plan for things but the wheels fall off, for whatever reason.
“Given what’s happened in the last couple of years, you’d be stupid to say that any team at the moment couldn’t finish in there.
“This opening Wakefield game has obviously been our main focus for at least three weeks, with the Hull trial, our training camp and Friday’s trial against London.
“We want to get a good start if we can.
“It’s important to win as many home games as possible; if you look at the stats most sides that do that generally are up there towards the end of the season so we’re really focusing heavily on those home games.”
One of the most decorated coaches in rugby league who has worked in Sydney, Canberra and Townsville, Sheens has relished operating in the hotbed of Hull.
He said: “I’ve found living in Hull brilliant. I’ve had no trouble in the city. I know about the ‘Black and White, Red and White’ scenario but no one’s pulled me up. Mind you I don’t wear the (Rovers) cap around town!
“From the Robins’ fans point of view, once you cross that bridge and head over to the game, to see them all come out, those colours and hear them sing, it is great.”
INCOGNITO: Former Australia World Cup-winning coach and current Hull KR chief, Tim Sheens, says he loves living there, but jokes that it doesn’t extend to wearing his club cap around the city.