Veteran coach Brian Smith has quit Super League club Wakefield due to personal reasons, the Wildcats captain Danny Kirmond has revealed.
Wakefield gave no explanation for the sudden resignation of the 61-year-old former NRL coach, who helped the club avoid relegation from Super League in 2015, but hinted that more details would be revealed at a press conference on Wednesday.
Smith broke the news to the Wakefield players after training on Tuesday morning and Kirmond admitted it came as a bombshell.
“It was a shock for us,” Kirmond told the Wakefield Express.
“Brian told us that his decision was due to personal reasons and nothing to do with us, as players.
“He didn’t go into any detail but we have to respect his decision.”
Kirmond added: “This is professional sport and these things happen.”
Smith, who had been in the job just nine months, is the second coaching casualty since Super League kicked off just under five weeks ago.
Wakefield chairman Michael Carter said: “I can confirm that Brian Smith has resigned his position as of today. There will be no further comment until a press conference on Wednesday.”
Smith, who succeeded fellow Australian James Webster last June, achieved his short-term objective of keeping the Wildcats in the top flight, courtesy of their victory over Bradford in the 1million Match in September, and two months later agreed to stay on for 2016.
Wakefield won just five of their 20 matches under the former Sydney Roosters, Newcastle and Parramatta boss, and he was critical of his players following Sunday’s 42-28 home defeat by Catalans Dragons.
Their only win of 2016 was in round three last month at the expense of Hull KR, who promptly sacked their head coach Chris Chester and last week replaced him with Webster.
Wakefield assistant coaches Stuart Dickens and Lee Gilmour, who stepped into the breach until Smith’s arrival last June, are likely to be again placed in temporary charge for the club’s next game at St Helens on Friday.
Smith, who turns 62 next Monday, was in charge of his third English club following spells earlier in his career with Hull and Bradford.
He is expected to return to Australia, leaving younger brother behind at Warrington.