Hunte shrugs off Salford speculation
Salford caretaker coach Alan Hunte is refusing to get sidetracked by the speculation over his long-term future with the City Reds under ambitious owner Marwan Koukash.
The former Great Britain centre, who has stepped into the breach following the sacking of Phil Veivers, has been promised “a shot” at the job full-time but for now all his focus is on tomorrow’s Super League match at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Hunte, whose day job at the City Reds is head of youth development, admits he has been “thrown in at the deep end” but has been grateful for the help of another former St Helens ace Sean Long, who kept his job of assistant coach following the sudden departure of Veivers last Sunday.
“It’s been an interesting week,” Hunte said. “You can’t plan for these kind of things. All you can do is roll your sleeves up and crack on with it.
“The response in training has been good and Longy has been fantastic. I’m reliant on him because he knows the players a lot better than I do.
“They know me but they’ve not seen me coach and my influence will come to the fore in the weeks ahead.
“It’s been a tough week for Sean but he’s responded really well. His pedigree as a player was second to none and he’s shown a willingness to work and move forward.
“It’s been fantastic for me to work with him this week. It’s certainly made things a lot smoother for me.”
Koukash plans to speak to former Great Britain coach Brian Noble about the vacancy and New Zealander Tony Iro is among the list of potential overseas candidates but the owner also wants to see what sort of a job Hunte makes of it in the short term.
Hunte is determined not to allow that sort of pressure to affect him as he seeks to turn around last Friday’s 38-4 home defeat by London Broncos that plunged the Reds to the foot of the table.
“The best way of going at the job is just concentrating on the role,” he said.
“If I worry about whether I’ll keep the job, there’s a danger of not doing it properly.
“If I got the job, fantastic, if not not, well it’s out of my hands, so I don’t see the point in worrying about it. Whatever will be, will be.”
Hunte has changes in mind but accepts it could take time to implement all of them.
For his first match in charge he recalls youngsters Nial Evalds, Gareth Owen and Theo Fages and welcomes back from suspension prop Lee Jewitt as well as winger Danny Broughton, who missed last week’s defeat by London after being stuck in a traffic jam.
“All coaches have their own ideas and there are things I want to do but I can’t change too much straight away,” he said.
“I’ve outlined what I expect and how I’ll be operating and the hard work is going to go on for the next couple of weeks.
“Preparation has been good so far. The players have given everything we’ve asked for.”
Meanwhile, Hunte is looking forward to returning to his home-town team, where his professional rugby league career began 24 years ago.
He made two appearances for Wakefield in 1988-89 before being snapped up by St Helens and going on to also play with distinction for Hull FC, Warrington Wolves and Salford in a career that brought him 15 Great Britain caps.
“It’s nice that I’ll be able to hand over my mother’s day card in person rather than having to post it,” he said.