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NRL 2022: Willie Peters, Newcastle Knights, Hull KR, former halfback to coach in Super League

Newcastle Knights assistant Willie Peters will step up to a head coaching role with Hull KR after a long apprenticeship in the NRL.

Peters, the former South Sydney and St George Illawarra halfback, will move to the Super League next season to take over from Tony Smith as Hull KR head coach on a three-year deal until the end of the 2025 season.

The 43-year-old joins the club after six years in the NRL as an assistant with Manly Sea Eagles (2017), South Sydney Rabbitohs (2018-19), and currently, Newcastle Knights (since 2020).

Peters will leave the Knights at the end of the season to coach Hull KR
©Shane Myers/NRL Photos

During that time, Peters has been part of five successive play-off finishes while working with the likes of Trent Barrett, Anthony Seibold, Wayne Bennett and Adam O’Brien.

Peters, who also played for Gateshead Thunder, Wigan and Widnes, is excited to return to England and realize a goal almost 10 years in the making.

““I always had an ambition to go back and coach in the Super League,” he told the Hull KR website.

“When the opportunity came up, it just felt right. I’ve got so many good memories of when I played in Super League, I’m just grateful for the opportunity and I can’t wait to come back over there.

“I’m joining a team that’s well established and definitely on the rise. I’ve worked with a number of quality coaches and taken a lot away from what their strengths are. But of course, I’m going to do it my way.

“We don’t need to change too much in the way we’ll play our footy. Naturally, I’ll have my spin on things and some principles that I think are important.

“I’ve just got to build on the foundations that Neil (Hudgell), Paul (Lakin), Tony (Smith) and the staff have set on the back of their hard work. So for me, it’s just about building on the great work people have done so far.”

Peters worked with Souths in 2018-2019
Peters worked with Souths in 2018-2019
©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Knights coach Adam O’Brien highlighted Peter’s contribution and influence on the club.

“I’m really pleased for Willie, and it’s a great appointment that is thoroughly deserved,” O’Brien said.

“Not only is Willie a great coach, he is also a great mate. He has been loyal confidant to me, especially in tough times.

“Willie has a natural understanding of both the player and the person, he connects well to the entire club through his passion and determination to succeed.

“These are great traits to carry forward into his Head Coaching role with Hull KR.

“On behalf of everyone at the Knights, I want to personally thank Kera, Mason and Jaxon. They have supported Willie by moving their lives to Newcastle and have become an integral part of our club.”

Peters in his playing days for the Rabbitohs
Peters in his playing days for the Rabbitohs
©NRL Photos

Hull KR Chief Executive, Paul Lakin said Peters had received recommendations from other NRL coaches he has worked under since starting his coaching career with Wests Tigers under 20s.

“From the first time we spoke to Willie it was clear that he understood the progress we have made under Tony, our philosophy on recruitment, the quality of our squad, the passion of our fanbase and how he could build and develop our team further over the next three years.

“Willie knows Super League well, he’s a fan of the competition, and he has six years NRL Assistant coaching experience across three clubs with high-quality cultures, who have consistently reached the play-offs.

Peters with the Dragons in 2001
Peters with the Dragons in 2001
©NRL Photos

“He initially worked as a development coach and is clearly passionate about promoting youth at every opportunity, again a key discipline that we believe in as a club.

“Both former coaches and players who have worked with Willie spoke in such high regard of his coaching abilities.

“With Willie’s significant coaching experience, his initial development coaching background and his clear understanding of the Super League game, we believe he is the ideal fit for Hull KR, to progress from the firm foundation stones set in place.

“It is vitally important that we make this announcement now to enable retention and recruitment discussions to happen immediately whilst we remain fully focused on the 2022 season.”

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