Payne retained as Thunder head coach

Jason Payne will plot Newcastle Thunder’s course during the 2018 Kingstone Press League 1 season, after being appointed to the role of Head Coach for the next two seasons.

Payne fulfilled the role on an interim basis during 2017 after the club parted ways with Mick Mantelli and oversaw a resurgence in the team’s performances.  Thunder first qualified for the League 1 Super 8s and then the end of season playoffs, finishing the year fifth in the table.

It was an impressive start to the senior coaching career of the former club captain and one that made use of his six years experience gained as the boss of Team Northumbria’s rugby league side.

Having agreed on a new deal to remain in charge of first-team affairs in what will be his 10th season with the club, Payne will again be supported by Michael Heap as assistant coach.

Newcastle Thunder Chairman Mick Hogan said: “We’re delighted Jason will be our head coach for the next two seasons after doing an outstanding job in 2017.

“He guided the team to the Super 8s and the promotion playoffs for the first time as Newcastle Thunder and made it a pretty easy choice to appoint him as head coach proper.

“He has been overseeing recruitment matters for 2018 and has retained the core of a good squad whilst identifying exciting new players to bring in and enhance the team and we’re all looking forward to the new season already.”

Payne said: “I am delighted to be offered the Newcastle Thunder Head coach job. It’s a very proud moment for me, I have been part of this club for over 10 years now and throughout this time I’ve faced many ups and downs. One constant over the years have been the amazing fans that stuck with us through everything and have accepted me into this position with open arms during my time as interim coach.

“I’m really excited by the opportunity that lies ahead and I know with the talented squad we have we are in a great place to take this club to the next level. This year was a step in the right direction but now all our focus is on continuing this progress and hopefully building this club into  what I know it can be.

“Once again I’m extremely honoured to be given this opportunity and alongside Michael Heap I’m confident that we can continue to push forward. I would just like to thank the board for giving me this opportunity and I’m looking forward to repaying their faith.”