Following the sudden departure of Brian McDermott, the USA Hawks have appointed Sean Rutgerson as their new head coach.
With American rugby league on the rise and their desire to make the next World Cup, a local like Rutgerson could prove to be a masterstroke.
With qualifiers looming, it shapes as a crucial time for Rutgerson and his Hawks side.
“I’m really happy and excited to take over and am looking forward to a big year for the USARL,” said Rutgerson.
“First thing on my list is to get my staff on board and organized.”
Rutgerson is no stranger to the system, having worked as a domestic assistant under McDermott.
Rutgerson will retain some elements used by McDermott and incorporate some of his own.
“As far as strategies, we will not be doing too much different from what Mac put in place, but I will be adding some ideas as we go,” he added.
“I definitely will be sticking with the Facebook page. There will be a few changes to it and am currently working on those.
There will be some standards that will need to be met.”
Also coach of the Jacksonville Axemen, it was his rugby league pedigree and nous that got him the job.
“Sean was an accomplished NRL player at Canberra Raiders and English Super League player at Salford City Reds,” USARL Inc Chairman Peter Illfield said.
“He’s an accredited Level 2 NRL coach and sports trainer, Level 2 ASCA strength and conditioning coach and has a diploma in personal training.”
Fans may remember Rutgerson during his playing and coaching days with NRL teams.
“He had six years as assistant coach with NRL club Wests Tigers’ NSW Cup team,” Illfield continued.
“He’s coached at Jacksonville Axemen (2009, 2016, 2017) and again for 2018.
“He was also assistant coach to Brian McDermott for USA Hawks RLWC2017 Qualifiers campaign in 2015, going on to RLWC2017 as strength and conditioning coach for USA.”
Should he have success with the Hawks at the qualifiers level, a long-term deal is on the table for Rutgerson.
“Immediate expectation for Sean is to recruit his management and support staff for international fixtures,” said Illfield.
“Long-term expectations are to develop a suitable player selection process inclusive of domestic and heritage players, and development of an elite player program to raise the skills and fitness worthy of USARL representation.”