Halifax Panthers are delighted to announce the appointment of Liam Finn as First Team Head Coach on a three year deal for the 2024 season.
Fax born Finn, who began his playing career at The Shay back in 2002 before going on to make 493 professional appearances across Super League and the Championship, will take over from current boss Simon Grix at the end of the current season.
Finn was previously assistant coach at the Panthers in 2022 before leaving to take up the job at Dewsbury Rams, where he earned promotion back to the Betfred Championship in his first full season at FLAIR Stadium.
A Former Ireland international, he holds the record for most capped player jointly with Bob Beswick, earning 30 caps and is the Wolfhounds all time record points scorer.
And the 39 year old is relishing the chance to lead his hometown club.
“It’s really exciting”, said Finn. “I’m absolutely delighted to take this position and be offered it and I’m just looking forward to getting started. It’s been a steep learning curve at Dewsbury and obviously completely different to being an assistant. A lot more decisions and a lot more conversations and awkward chats to have, a lot to more learn which has been really good.”
“Obviously, going away from Halifax as assistant and stepping up to head coach at Dewsbury and learning that side of it, I feel like I’ve developed at lot in the last 12 months. I’m looking forward hopefully keeping up that improvement whilst I’m at this great club and hopefully, we have some more successful times.”
When asked about his philosophy of rugby league and what he wants the identity of his team to be, Finn added: “I just want to take over from where Simon is leaving off. He’s done a great job and obviously, we worked together for a brief period last year so it would be more about evolving that style of play rather than coming in and doing any sort of revolutionary things or trying to go down a completely different path because I don’t think there’s an awful lot wrong with the style of rugby that Halifax play.”
“They play an attractive brand and defend really tough so if we can build on that and try to tweak a few things here and there and add my little bits to it, hopefully we can keep improving and going on an upward curve.”
When questioned on recruitment and the strength of the current squad at the Panthers, Finn continued: “Obviously, recruitment and retention has been well underway under Simon and the board. One of the exciting things about taking the position is that the current squad that are in place and the amount of players that are already resigned for next year, or have been signed, means the squad is really competitive Championship squad for next year already.”
“It’s not completely finished so there will be a chance to put a few new faces in there hopefully but that will start now. We’ll start looking around and trying to add a little bit more to the group just in terms of finishing off the squad more than anything.”
“But like we’ve said, the squad and the team looks pretty strong to me and the people who are already staying, I know quite a lot of them already. They’re good people and hardworking and hopefully, me coming in can add a little bit of spark as well.”
Director of Rugby Richard Durgan commented: “First and foremost, we’re very happy with the fact that we’ve managed to secure Liam. The process was good, there was some good applicants, not just here but further afield. But it was fairly obvious fairly soon into the process that Liam was the candidate we wanted.”
“The link with Halifax is obvious but it’s not just that. It was more things around style of play, ethos, values, all the things you look for in any kind of job role really so it became clear fairly fast that he was the man for us.”
“Essentially we’re in sport and we want to win but also, it’s about entertainment as well so you want to play a certain brand of rugby. I think Simon has clearly done that over the years so having someone that has worked alongside Simon previously and has a similar ethos about how he plays is important for us. We want to be entertaining as well as successful so it was clear fairly quickly despite some very good candidates and some very good interviews, Liam was the stand out.”
“Liam’s career speaks for itself. As a player we all know what he achieved but I think very early on, it’s becoming apparent that that’s translating well into coaching. Obviously, he’s been very successful at Dewsbury this season and we’ve been watching that closely as well just to see how he got on as you always want your ex players and ex coaches to do well. We’re confident the success he’s had there can translate here. I’m looking forward to it.”
Current Fax boss Simon Grix also shared his thoughts after the announcement.
“Liam is a great appointment for the club. He was one of many applicants, the interest in the job from far and wide was nice to hear. Liam, like myself, from Halifax, played for Halifax and now will take on the head coach role, which seems to have a bit of a trend at our club. I am sure he will do a fine job of it and keep us moving forward.”
“He won’t have to reinvent the wheel, we are quite aligned on our views but he will be a fresh voice and have his own stamp on things. He won’t need it but like Scott has when he has moved on i will be around to support him if at all he needs it.”