Featherstone Rovers had “no other option” but to terminate John Duffy’s contract, club general manager Davide Longo has said.
Rovers announced on Tuesday that the former Swinton Lions boss had failed to turn up for pre-season training last Monday and that he has not been seen since the squad returned to begin their preparations for 2019 .
Longo confirmed that the club were unable to get in contact with Duffy, who had reportedly held talks with Leigh Centurions about their vacant head coach position.
Featherstone are now seeking legal advice and are taking formal action against Duffy for breach of contract and Championship rivals Leigh for an “inducement to breach contract.”
Longo also revealed that Featherstone were informed by the Centurions that Duffy believed he was no longer under contract, despite signing an extension deal in April. A deal that was designed to keep him at the LD Nutrition Stadium until the end of the 2020 season.
“We heard that John had discussions with Leigh Centurions about becoming their head coach but we quickly let Leigh know that John was under contract at Featherstone Rovers,” said Longo.
“However, they were told by John that he didn’t feel he was under contract which is rather unbelievable.
“In April, through his own admission and quotes in a press statement, he said how much he enjoyed Featherstone and was happy to extend his contract.
“Furthermore, he had a slight pay increase which commenced from when he signed the contract in April.
“We allowed John to return to training but he missed the entire week last week and in the meantime he has been pretty hard to get a hold off.
“He has not really let us know what is going on so we had no other option but to remove him from his duties.”
Featherstone have not actively sought a new head coach since Duffy was linked to a move to Leigh.
But Longo says that the club need to act fast and that a number of high-profile candidates have already contacted the club to express an interest in the head coach role.
“We have not, out of respect for the situation, gone out looking for coaches,” confirmed Longo.
“It has been well documented that John was having some kind of dialogue with Leigh Centurions, although they were only rumours at the time.
“And when things like this gather momentum, people have been contacting us and making themselves known to Featherstone Rovers.
“And some of those candidates, their profiles are quite high. But there is no doubt in my mind that we have to move quickly, we already in pre-season training.
“We have got our first pre-season game against one of the best teams in Super League in Castleford. And we have got a month and a half to sort the team out.
“But we are not going to be forced into it, I feel the club needs some stability in head coaches.
“This will be the third head coach in two years, so we need to make sure the person comes with the right credentials and for the right reasons.”
Rovers have confirmed that strength and conditioner Greg Stebbings and reserve team head coach Paul March will lead the pre-season training sessions while the club seeks a new head coach.