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York Knights appointment of former England international half-back and ex-Doncaster RLFC Head Coach Paul Cooke as the Club’s new Assistant Coach.

Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Cooke enjoyed a decorated playing career in the Betfred Super League, primarily at Hull FC and Hull KR.

The half-back scored a vital try in Hull FC’s dramatic capture of the 2005 Betfred Challenge Cup as the Black and Whites beat Leeds Rhinos 25-24 at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

The 42-year-old also featured for Hull FC in the 2006 Betfred Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford - the Humberside club’s first and sole appearance at Old Trafford.

Cooke, who earned three caps for England, went on to represent Hull KR, Wakefield Trinity, Doncaster and Featherstone Rovers during his playing career, finishing with 405 professional appearances, scoring 70 tries, 545 goals, nine drop-goals and 1,379 points.

Cooke moved into coaching with Doncaster, serving as Player/Head Coach from 2014 to 2015 before a spell as Assistant Coach role at Leigh Leopards from 2016 to 2017.

The Hull-born coach also has past experience in rugby union, having worked at Doncaster Knights as Skills and Backs Coach across two spells (2013-16) and (2017-19). 

Cooke arrives at York to complement the Club’s existing Coaching Staff, working alongside Head Coach Andrew Henderson and Assistant Coaches Ged Corcoran and Will Leatt. 

On his appointment as Assistant Coach, Cooke said: "I'm delighted to have joined the coaching team here at York. I've been out of the game for a while with family commitments, but when I came to meet Hendo and Clint, this felt like the right fit for me.

"I was looking for an opportunity that was unique to bring me back into coaching and there's a real long-term vision here at York and I'm delighted to be part of that.

"I'm coming in alongside Ged and Will, who have both been great with me. There's a real trust among the staff, which is really important in any coaching set-up.

"Hopefully I can play a small part in what is a massive cog where hopefully York can get better."

Head Coach Henderson added: "I'm really pleased to secure the services of Paul and I'm really pleased that Paul wanted to come here too. I know he's been touted for a few jobs in recent years but, from when we met, nothing really excited him.

"But after meeting with myself and Clint, he's really bought into the vision of the Club and the journey we're going on and feels like he can add some value to our coaching team.

"I felt like we needed to strengthen our performance staffing operation going into 2024. Each year we go forward, we need to see progression and improvement.

"I thought that adding another Assistant Coach would help strengthen us and then it was a case of looking at who was out there and who is of the right quality and standard to help develop our players further and take them to the next level. Paul Cooke came to mind pretty quickly.

"Having met him and spoken about how we both approach the game, we're very similar and aligned, so it's a great addition for us to have a quality coach to help our players develop further.

"As a Head Coach, you have a lot to contend with on a day-to-day basis. The more quality support staff you have around you, the better. I was really grateful to Clint for backing me in that regard.

"I think we've got a good balance now to our coaching staff. I've got an ex-half-back in Paul Cooke and an ex-front-rower in Ged Corcoran, who will have more defined roles, with each taking a particular unit and myself overseeing all the operations.

"Plus we've got Will Leatt, who is a developing young coach and will be supporting both Paul, Ged and myself and looking after another unit of players."

The appointment of Cooke as Assistant Coach confirms York Knights' coaching staff ahead of the 2024 season.

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