Francis Maloney

Date published: Friday, March 19, 2010

Former Super League stalwart Francis Maloney has joined the Roughyeds backroom team in a player-mentor role.

He will work alongside reserve-team coach John Hough to give the club’s younger players the benefits of his vast experience gained over 20 years as a pro, many of them at the sport’s highest level in Super League.

A goalkicking stand-off with more than 350 senior games behind him (176 of them in Super League), 36-year-old “Franny” played for Leeds, Warrington, Oldham, Featherstone, Salford, Wakefield, Castleford, Batley, Dewsbury and finally Hunslet, where he hung up his boots in 2008.

He was at Oldham when the Bears were relegated from Super League in 1997 and subsequently went into liquidation.

A year ago he received a League Express lifetime achievement award for his services to rugby league over the entire lifespan of the trade newspaper.

“Franny will be helping me to bring on the youngsters in the Reserves, more specifically with the backs and half-backs but with anyone who can benefit from his experience,” said Hough.

“He won’t be playing, but he hopes to be with us once a week for training and he will watch the matches closely, either in person or on video.

“He will look at individual players and guide them in such things as developing skills, making right choices, tactical awareness and how and when to kick.

“At the end of each session he attends he will devote half an hour or so to a kicking clinic, including goalkicking.

“His vast experience can only enhance the reserve team squad and everyone in it — and that includes me.”

Maloney’s recruitment in an off-field role will not affect the job that Paul Ashton will be doing on the field.

Added Hough: “Ashy will benefit too. This can only be a good thing for the further advancement of everything we are striving to achieve in bringing boys through our reserve-team system.

“Funnily enough, a lot of the lads are so young that they don’t remember Franny in his heyday. I just say: ‘Then go and ask your dad’.”

Maloney, who lives in Dewsbury, began a dialogue with Hough when they met by chance at Oldham’s pre-season game at Batley.

“It will be good to be back at Oldham,” said Franny today. “I would love to play — I’m a stone lighter than ever I was in my playing days — but I can’t on medical grounds because of a neck problem.

“Instead, I will be helping Houghie to bring on the young hopefuls and that’s something I enjoy doing.

“Rugby league is a simple game, but a lot of coaches make it harder than it should be and harder than it was ever intended to be.

“I know you’ve got to have some structure and a simple game plan, but I’m no fan of this ‘five drives and a kick’ routine.

“Players should be free to express themselves and then their natural ability will come out.”