Northern Bulldogs get former Kiwis coach: Endacott back in the game

Frank Endacott. Photo: Supplied
Frank Endacott. Photo: Supplied
Frank Endacott is gearing up for his first head coach role since 2005 after being promoted from an assistant role at the resurgent Northern Bulldogs.

The former Kiwis, Auckland Warriors and Wigan coach has succeeded Brent Ringdahl – who did not reapply for the position – at last season’s Canterbury Rugby League premiership runners-up.

Endacott started his pre-season training regime before Christmas at Murphy Park, for what is his first top coaching job at a club since a short-lived stint in the English Super League with Widnes.

The 72-year-old was coaxed into helping Ringdahl as the Kaiapoi-based side advanced to the grand final, where hopes of a second premiership in the club’s 63-year history were dashed by juggernaut Linwood.

Endacott, who has lived in Kaiapoi for more than a decade, previously coached the 13-year-old and 16-year-old age group teams at the club.

“They asked for applications … I helped out last year and enjoyed it. I thought: ‘I’m not getting any younger’ but if you feel as if you’ve got some knowledge to part with you carry on until you can’t,” he said.

“I’ve been in rugby league for 65 years, it’s in the blood.”

Endacott at Ericsson Stadium in 1999 during a training session with the Kiwis. Photo: Sav...
Endacott at Ericsson Stadium in 1999 during a training session with the Kiwis. Photo: Sav Schulman / Getty Images
Endacott was encouraged by the Bulldogs 2020 campaign, where they beat Linwood, winners of the last five grand finals, in the regular season before suffering two single-digit defeats, including September’s decider.

“We’ve shown now we can foot it with any team. We’ve got a similar squad and there’s a couple of signings in the pipeline,” he said.

Endacott said the core of his coaching philosophy won’t change, though he needs reminding the Bulldogs are not elite footballers.

The squad features several tradies and there’s a former rugby playing dairy farmer from Culverden. A couple of players make the 320km round trip from Kaikoura to train and play.

“I’ve just got to give myself a jab on the jaw every so often and just remember I’m not coaching full-time professionals,” he admitted.

“These guys all work and they play for the enjoyment. I’ve got to change my thinking that way, and my training. It’s tough sometimes but you’ve just got to do it.”

Endacott’s first game in charge is a pre-season trial on home turf against Riccarton on March 27, the seven-club season opens on April 10.

In other confirmed coaching changes, Halswell stalwart Walt Wilson has returned to the club following a two-year coaching stint in Sydney to replace Jason Martin, who stepped down.

Papanui’s premier grade coach John Tafua has relocated to Australia with his family so reserve grade coach Sonny Hammond is promoted.

 

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