Justin Morgan will 'never say never' on Hull KR return, but is happy to go anywhere to coach
JUSTIN Morgan may have spent seven years as the coach of Hull KR, but he believes the last 12 months have given him a unique insight on the role of a head coach.
Morgan, who took the Robins from National League One part-timers into the Super League play-offs, spent last season as an assistant coach at Canberra Raiders after returning Down Under to seek a new challenge.
On paper, it looks like a backward step. However, the Aussie insists it was a learning curve which can help him map out a long-term path to more coaching success.
"It was good to be back home being an assistant coach as it taught me a lot about being a head coach," said Morgan, who is back in Hull to visit his wife and children.
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"It was nice not having the extra stress of being the boss and I could go home at a decent hour.
"When things are not going great, you still feel responsible because ultimately the buck stops with the head coach. That was the biggest difference.
"I don't know if I miss being a head coach.
"My ultimate goal is to coach and if you want to do it for a long period of time, there are periods when you are going to be a head coach and periods when you are an assistant coach.
"There will also be times when you are out of work because it is the nature of the business.
"But I don't have an attitude of wanting to be this or that, I just want to coach."
During his time in charge of the Robins, Morgan won 67 of his 140 Super League games and took the club into the play-offs for the first time. But he will forever be remembered by fans as the man who orchestrated the club's emergence out of the lower leagues.
So will he ever return to MS3 Craven Park as coach?
"Never say never," he said. "I have a strong affiliation with the club and my time there helped me develop as a coach.
"I was a rookie when I arrived and walked away seven years later with some great experiences.
"I keep in touch with chairman Neil Hudgell and chief executive Mike Smith, so I'm still good friends with a lot of people at Rovers.
"I still follow the club very closely, but more as a Rovers fan now.
"I listened to a number of games on the radio because Australian TV only show a few Super League games a week and that's not consistently every week.
"I listened to the derbies on the radio and I check the results every week.
"But I also keep in touch with a number of players.
"If an opportunity comes up in the future, who knows?
"But the club are going in a new direction with a coach in place and I'm certainly not back here for that reason."
Having headed back to the NRL to broaden his career, there are few coaches better placed to compare Super League to the game Down Under.
But, perhaps surprisingly, Morgan is adamant that the NRL is not streets ahead of the English game.
"When I made the decision to go back to Australia I did so because it is my home," said Morgan, who left Rovers at the end of the 2011 season.
"After being back for 12 months, the NRL isn't the holy grail of rugby league.
"It's a great competition and the intensity is great and it gets great publicity. But I don't think it's that much better than Super League.
"There are some great advantages about coaching in Super League, just as there are about coaching in the NRL.
"I want to coach in Australia because it is my home, not because it's perceived to be the best competition.
"But if a job becomes available in England or New Zealand or France, I'll certainly look at it.
"For the short term I'll probably be in Australia unless something comes up in the next six or 12 months."
So what does lie in store next for Morgan?
A change of coach at the Raiders has seen him move on and he is currently weighing up several coaching offers available to him, not all of them with clubs.
He is scheduled to return to Australia at the end of the month, but he hasn't ruled out a return to coaching in England in the future.
"I have a few irons in the fire," he told the Mail.
"There is a new coach in place at Canberra so I won't be there, but I will be coaching in some capacity.
"One or two offers are with clubs, one or two might not be but they are still offers in a coaching capacity.
"I have to weigh them up and see which is best suited for me.
"Hopefully, I can get back into club coaching either during the year or, if not, certainly in 2014."