USA international Mark Offerdahl has been appointed as the new head coach of Chester Gladiators.
Offerdahl, who plays North Wales Crusaders, played a key role in the Tomahawks run to the 2013 Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals.
He started every game as the USA defeated Cook Islands and Wales before bowing out to eventual winners Australia with the 26-year-old earning widespread praise for his blockbusting performances.
Offerdahl, who came through the ranks with NRL giants Manly Sea Eagles, agreed to join Crusaders at the end of the tournament having previously played in the USA and in France with AS Carcasonne.
He has now agreed to become head coach of the Gladiators, who complete in the North West Men's League.
Offerdahl, who is a qualified personal trainer, plans to settle in the Chester area and will be launching his own business in the coming weeks.
“I’m delighted to take on the role and I’m really looking forward to helping the club develop,” he explained.
“I’m extremely passionate about rugby league and will be looking to use my experience to help the squad push on and improve.
“The club has got great facilities and it sounds like there is huge potential for the game of rugby league in the area.”
Gladiators development officer Paul Foster said the club was thrilled to have Offerdahl on board.
He said: “We have been looking for a new head coach for some time and as soon as we heard Mark was interested it was a no-brainer.
“He’s someone who lives and breathes rugby league, he’s very knowledgeable about the game as you would expect and we think it’s a huge step forward for us.
“We have been putting the pieces of the jigsaw together over the past 12 months and this is another part of that.
“We've got great support from our main sponsor, excellent facilities at The Cheshire County Sports Club, a hardworking team of volunteers and now a head coach who has taken on the best players in the world.
“We are really exciting about continuing our development and there is a lot of positivity around the club.”
Gladiators will be running two teams in 2014 and are welcoming new players for the current season.
For more details email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07512 355396.
Two tries from Gary Middlehurst helped Crusaders record a bonus-point from the defeat and full-back Tommy Johnson, who kicked two successful conversions, believes the Wrexham-based outfit will get a better indication of where they should be in the table in a few weeks time.
“At the halfway point of the season, we will know where we are and what we need to do,” said Johnson.
“There are real positives in the sense that we think that we could have won the games against teams like Featherstone and Leigh.
“At Leigh and against Featherstone in the first-half, we showed that we can compete at this level.
“In patches, we’ve been really good, but we need to put in some 80-minute performances.
“We shouldn’t be panicking. We’ve got quality across the park, and as soon as we start to put those 80-minute performances in and get a run of results, we will be fine.”
The 22-year-old “loves playing for Crusaders” – which is the perfect motivation to pick up some more vital points.
Johnson said: “We’ve got a great set of lads here at the club and, when you’re enjoying yourself, it really helps with the playing side of things.
“We’ve got great fans behind us here as well.”
Asked whether he is satisfied with his performances to date this season, which have seen him score five tries, Johnson added: “I suppose it’s good to kick on and have a place in the team, but I think that I can still do a lot better and help the team.”
See full story in the Chester Leader