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Newcastle appoint Catalans assistant

Eamon O’Carroll will join Denis Betts on the Newcastle Thunder coaching staff in 2021 as he takes up the club’s head coach reins on a two-year contract.

Director of rugby Denis Betts has himself agreed a new deal at Kingston Park Stadium for the same duration through to the end of the 2022 season.

A former Ireland international, O’Carroll arrives on Tyneside from Super League’s Catalan Dragons, where he has been assistant coach to Steve McNamara since November 2018.

The 33-year-old’s coaching career began at Widnes in 2017 as assistant to Betts, when injury forced him to retire after playing 149 Super League games for the Vikings, Hull FC and Wigan Warriors.

Upon signing, O’Carroll said: “I’m really looking forward to starting with Thunder. It’s all a bit manic at the moment getting packed up and ready to come back over to England, but I’m excited and want to meet everyone at the club as soon as possible.

“Even before speaking to Denis I was aware of Thunder’s aspirations, as I think most people in the game are and I’m excited to be part of that.

“I’m particularly interested in working with the academy and bringing local lads into the first team, as seeing players develop is a great satisfaction.”

Betts added: “Eamon fits in to our club brilliantly. He has a real understanding of who we are and the fabric of our group and is someone who is willing to work hard at making the place better.

“He was my assistant at Widnes and he was a sponge who took in everything and worked hard to improve himself. Two years at the Dragons under Steve McNamara will only have made him better.

“He is a fantastic bloke who wants to make people better and as a coach wants to help player achieve what they can be. I’ve seen him work through pain and defy odds during his career and that determination is going to be great for us.”

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