The Haryana Steelers on Sunday announced Rakesh Kumar, one of India’s most decorated kabaddi players, as the franchise’s head coach ahead of the upcoming season 7 of the Pro Kabaddi League.

Kumar replaces Rambir Singh Khokhar, who was with the team since its entry into the league two seasons ago, a media release from the JSW Sports-owned franchise said.

Having made his senior India debut in 2003, the 36-year old from Nizampur had an illustrious career winning two World Cup titles and three Asian Games golds with the national team.

Kumar, who was the most expensive player in the inaugural season, has played 55 matches in the PKL, earning 260 points through the first five seasons of the league. This will be Kumar’s first coaching stint.

“I am excited about returning to the PKL mat as coach of the Haryana Steelers and am thankful to the franchise for giving me this opportunity,” Kumar said on the eve of the 2019 auction.

“It is my first time as head coach of a team and I intend to lead this team after the auction through hard work and discipline to ensure we can take the team to the top of the league,” he added.

“We are thrilled to have Rakesh join us and are looking forward to him bringing his vast experience as a player and leader to the Steelers set-up. He brings a strong winning mentality to the team and will play an important role in guiding our young players to achieve their potential,” said JSW Sports’ CEO, Mustafa Ghouse.