VETERAN defender Sam Collins is “raring to go” after penning a new player coach deal at Hartlepool United, writes Richard Mennear.
The 36-year-old was out of contract but has put pen to paper on a new deal which will see him combine playing with the role of assistant first and reserve team coach at the Sky Bet League Two club.
Collins is not the new assistant manager but he will help coach the first team while being in overall charge of the second string at Victoria Park.
He spent much of the first part of last season on the bench but was drafted back into the starting line-up after Jack Baldwin’s January sale to Peterborough, putting in some mammoth performances.
Those performances have now been rewarded with a new deal to prolong his Pools career.
Chuffed Collins told SportMail: “I am delighted and this is a brilliant opportunity for me.
“I really appreciate what the gaffer and the club have done and this is fantastic.
“To be honest, I’m raring to go and I can’t wait to get back into training.
“I am really looking forward to helping the manager out and also overseeing the reserves as well.
“It is quite fortunate that when I had a meeting with the club they also wanted me to carry on playing as well, so in my eyes I am getting the best of both worlds.
“I know it will be a lot of hard work doing the different roles but it is nothing to be afraid of, I am looking forward to it.”
It is understood there will still be further additions to the coaching set-up in the coming weeks, with manager Colin Cooper yet to replace former assistant manager Craig Hignett who left for Middlesbrough.
Earlier this week, Collins revealed he has ambitions himself of becoming a manager when he retires from playing and is working towards completing his UEFA A-licence.
Coaching isn’t new to Collins of course, as the former Hull City and Huddersfield Town defender helped out with coaching the reserves last season.
He assisted Pools’ director of youth John Hewitson, working both on match days and in training with the club’s young players but he will now be in charge of the second string.
Collins, who has made more than 250 appearances for Pools, said: “This was an opportunity too good to turn down and I couldn’t wait to come in and get it all finalised and signed.
“I have been thinking about going into coaching and management for a few years and getting plans in place and writing down a lot of the sessions I have been involved in, in preparation one day to go into coaching and hopefully one day become a manager.
“For me, this is perfect timing.”
Pontefract-born Collins, who turns 37 next month, will enter into his 20th year as a player when the first team squad return to pre-season training on July 1.
The veteran defender has spent the past six years at The Vic after arriving at Pools from Hull City on the final day of the January 2008 transfer window.
Strong as an Ox, the big defender quickly became a firm favourite amongst supporters in the centre-back role.