London: Super League strugglers London Broncos announced Monday that Tony Rea will leave his role as head coach with immediate effect to be replaced by Joe Grima. Rea, who ended his playing career with the capital club 18 years ago, returned to coach the Broncos for the second time in 2012.
But the last few months have been tough for the Broncos, who saw most of their playing squad from last season leave the side and they faced an uncertain future until finding a new home at Barnet football club`s Hive ground in north-west London.
However, on the field the Broncos have lost their opening 11 matches in the current Super League season and Australian Rea has now decided it`s time to hand over to Grima. Broncos chairman David Hughes said: "Tony was instrumental in saving the club. In hindsight maybe it was far too late but we did save the club.
"So it`s a big thank you to him for assembling the squad and putting us in a position to go forward.
"We`re about halfway through out season and it was always intended that Joey would take over as head coach towards the end of this year and certainly for next year. He has agreed to do that."
Rea retired as player with the Broncos in 1996 and went on to become the club`s head coach and chief executive before returning to Australia in 2008, where he took up the post of assistant coach with rugby union side the Brumbies.
He became head coach of the Brumbies in 2011 after Andy Friend was sacked two games into the season before returning to London the following year, where he became the Broncos` interim coach before taking up the post on a permanent basis.
"It was always intended that I wouldn`t be here next year," Rea said. "The troubles of the recent past have been well documented and they took a lot of dealing with but we got the club up and functioning. We`ve had a difficult start to the season but that`s about to change.
"In planning for the future, both short and long term, we thought it was best for all of us, the club and myself, that we give Joey the opportunity to take the club on.
"I would like to thank everyone. I feel we`re going to have a great back half of the season and part of me is disappointed not to be a part of that but I also accept that it`s the best thing to do."