YORK City Knights boss James Ford has again refused to get drawn into speculation linking him with the now vacant Hull KR job.

In a move which was widely expected, Rovers announced late last night that head coach Tim Sheens had left the club, with the team second bottom of Super League having lost 11 of their 16 games. They are also out of the Challenge Cup.

Sheens, 68, had been at Craven Park since the start of 2017, leading the club to promotion from the Championship that year. They finished 10th in Super League last season, staying up via the Qualifiers.

In all, the Aussie won 47 of his 84 matches at the helm, drawing two and losing 35.

A short statement on Rovers’ website said: “A recent run of six defeats in seven league games, and an exit from the Challenge Cup at the weekend, has prompted a change.”

Assistant-coach James Webster led training today and is expected to take temporary charge until a full-time replacement is appointed – with Ford thought to be top of the Robins’ wish list, whether that be immediately or at the end of the current season.

It has been reported in Hull that a new man - potentially a stop-gap to steady the ship for the remainder of this campaign, steering the Robins away from relegation - could be in charge before their home match with Wigan on Sunday. 

Sources suggest any short-term option would more likely be an older head with Super League experience. Ford has no coaching experience in the top tier but could be asked to make that step up over the winter.

Ex-Rovers boss Justin Morgan, formerly an assistant with the New Zealand national team who is now coach of the Kiwis' women's side, arrived back in the UK last weekend, leading to speculation he may be a candidate. It has since been reported Morgan is not in the running.

Ford reiterated his focus was on his job at York.

He told The Press: “It’s never nice to see a coach lose his job, certainly one of Tim Sheens’ stature.

“My energies are focused on York. My players deserve 100 per cent of my attention and I will give them that. We will work our very hardest to achieve our goals.”

Ford, 36, has been in charge of the Minster city side since retiring as a player and taking over from Gary Thornton in October 2014.

Having finished in the League One play-offs in each of his first three seasons in charge, he guided the Knights to a stunning title triumph in 2018 and they now sit third in the Championship - currently being the leading part-time team in the land. They host second-placed Toulouse Olympique at Bootham Crescent on Saturday.

He is by far the Knights’ longest-serving coach since the club was re-formed in 2002, having clocked up 132 games in charge. Of those, he has won 90, drawn two and lost 40.

He is contracted until the end of 2021 after becoming the club's first-ever full-time boss in September last year, although it has been reported – albeit not confirmed by the club – that there is a buy-out clause in his contract should a Super League outfit come calling.