Veteran Collins relishes key developmental role at Hartlepool United

Sam Collins

Sam Collins

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VETERAN defender Sam Collins is “loving every minute” of his new role at the club, overseeing the next generation of Hartlepool United players.

The 36-year-old was asked by manager Colin Cooper during pre-season whether he would be interested in helping to manage the club’s reserve team this season.

And the former Hull City defender has taken to his new role like a duck to water.

Indeed, his rampant side annihilated Rotherham United’s reserve team 9-0 last week to the delight of their new gaffer.

Collins said: “I was delighted when the gaffer asked me about the role.

“It was pretty much the first day when we started back for pre-season.

“He asked what I wanted to do and we had a chat about doing the reserves but left it for a while.

“When the proper games started that is when we had another little chat again and we decided that I would get on with it and do it and I have absolutely loved every minute of it.”

Collins’ reserve team has won their last two games convincingly, 5-2 over Brandon United in the Durham County Cup and that thrashing of the Millers.

And on that impressive 9-0 win over Rotherham’s reserves?

Modest Collins added: “They were a young team but we played really well as well.

“We have had some good performances and the young lads are improving, which is the main thing.”

The bruising centre half signed a new contract in the summer after arriving at Pools from Hull City on the final day of the January 2008 transfer window.

Collins, not known for his goalscoring antics, is even helping to train striker Luke James improve his game.

His work on the training ground includes nurturing the 18-year-old’s striking talents and it is paying off as James already has nine goals to his name this campaign.

Collins, who describes James as a “great kid” added: “You’d think me helping Luke with his shooting practice - that can’t be right.

“But it’s because I’m doing my badges and over the years I have picked up a lot.

“I have a book at home with coaching and shooting drills in and he always asks me to do some work with him, with Higgy [Craig Hignett] and the gaffer as well.

“Everyone seems to be doing a bit extra, not just Luke, to try and get better.

“And the kid can’t stop scoring.”