Noel Hunt put in hard yards to be ready for Doncaster Rovers job

He may not have known exactly where he was going to land but new Doncaster Rovers assistant manager Noel Hunt wanted to be ready for his next job in football.

Sunday, 30th May 2021, 12:00 pm

After leaving Swindon Town last December, the Irishman did not follow Richie Wellens to Salford City and instead kept himself busy as a scout for his country’s international set up.

But the watching brief was as much for himself - and the benefit of his next employers - as it was the Football Association of Ireland.

“I was doing a lot of scouting for the FAI and I was helping out with the U21s out there and the manager Jim Crawford,” he told the Free Press.

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Noel Hunt

“I was going to games two and three times a week, any game I could get to all over the country to build up my database of players, watching players for exactly this moment when we got a job.

“I wanted to build up my understanding of Premier League 2 and the leagues around where we were going to be, what we can do and who we might want to bring in.”

Hunt says Rovers’ recruitment team will be examining potential signings from as many competitions as possible, including the League of Ireland where he started and finished his career.

While acknowledging the talent currently plying their trade across the Irish Sea, the former Republic of Ireland international says making signings from there is becoming increasingly difficult for English clubs.

“As you know yourselves with having Kieran Sadlier here, there are some gems in the League of Ireland,” he said.

“But money has changed a bit over there. There’s more money than people think in Ireland and some clubs pay big money for long contracts because they’re afraid of losing players or if they are going to lose them, they want to be compensated for it.

“Brexit has made a big difference as well because players can’t come over on YTSs any more. They have to be at a certain age and have played a certain number of games.

“But we’ll be looking in all markets. We have to find the right players who fit the style of play anywhere we can and we have to find the right characters as well.”

The last point from Hunt will be a major influencing factor in who Rovers sign this summer.

He insists that both he and Wellens only want fully committed players who will fit in with a strong group dynamic at the club.

“The ones we will have here and we will keep here are ones that we think will contribute,” he said.

“I think football is a really big commitment and it’s got to be like a family life.

“You’ve got to like and enjoy the people you work with because I do think you run further for a friend than you do a stranger.

“I think it’s important we get that togetherness really early on.

“As we go on a journey, whoever wants to be here will be here.

“If they can’t buy into it then no problem, they will move on.”

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.