Morley comes home to the Rhinos
Leeds Rhinos and Great Britain legend Adrian Morley will rejoin his first club as part of the backroom team at the club.
Morley, 39, will join the Rhinos from 1st December in a newly created role that will see him as Academy Head Coach, as well as being part of the senior coaching team at the club and an ambassadorial position on matchdays at Headingley Carnegie.
The Great Britain international retired from playing in 2015 and worked at Salford Red Devils last season but he will now return to the Rhinos in Brian McDermott’s coaching team.
When Morley left Leeds at the age of only 23, he had made 149 appearances for the Rhinos, been on a Lions tour to New Zealand, starred against the touring Australians and, memorably, gained a Challenge Cup winners medal with a typically forceful and courageous performance at Wembley. He made his debut for Leeds having signed from Eccles near Salford where he was born, in April 1995 after a short apprenticeship in the Academy ranks. On his first full appearance at Thrum Hall a week later he registered his first try for the club.
Adrian left Leeds at the end of the 2000 season to join former coach Graham Murray at the Sydney Roosters. His first season was punctuated by injuries and suspension and he found himself moved up from the second row to prop. 2002 was to be the year though for Morley as he took the NRL by storm and proved to be one of the world’s best. The Roosters recorded their first Premiership win in over twenty years and Morley had a crucial role in turning the tide in favour of the Roosters. His impact was so immense that when captain Brad Fitler was interviewed in the stadium after the game the only player he singled out for specific praise was Morley.
In 1999 he was named in the Leeds Great of the Millennium list and was the youngest of the 29 ‘greats’ but no less deserving for that. Morley made 23 appearances for England and won 30 caps for Great Britain as well as captaining his country following a successful spell as skipper of Warrington on his return to Super League.
He finished his career at his home town club of Salford to bring an incredible 20 year journey full circle. He remains the only British player to have won a Super League and NRL Grand Final.
Morley will replace Chris Plume as Academy Head Coach allowing Plume to work solely with the first team squad.
Commenting on the appointment, Head Coach Brian McDermott said, “The appointment of Adrian will certainly strengthen us for next season.
“To have secured Adrian is a massive boost to our youth development programme. He will work alongside our Head of Youth Simon Bell and I will definitely welcome his input on the first team squad given his standing in the game and his record of achievement throughout his career. It is great that we have kept a man of his experience, on both sides of the hemisphere, in our game here in Super League. He has set himself the challenge of taking up a coaching role. This is a great opportunity for him to cut his teeth with the Rhinos as a coach and I look forward to supporting him to fulfil his potential as a coach.”
Morley made his final appearance as a player with Leeds Rhinos a year ago when he had a guest appearance in the clubs clash with New Zealand at Headingley Carnegie in 2015.
He commented, “It is funny how these things work out. Leeds Rhinos was the first club I played for and the last and I have very fond memories of the club and the city, it is great to be a Rhino again. Speaking to Brian McDermott and the other staff at the club I can see that this is a coaching role I can get my teeth in to.
“It will be great to be in and around the players again on a daily basis. You really miss that when you retire and hopefully this will fill that void and I can pass on some of my experience. Rugby League has been a huge part of my life for more than 20 years and to still be involved in the sport, and to be involved at the club where I made my name, is something very special.
“I am looking forward to working with the young players at Leeds. When you have done something for more than 20 years on both sides of the world, you hope you have learned a few things along the way. The challenge is to try and tap into that experience and give the kids the benefit of that.
“I have worked with a lot of coaches down the years, when you play for a long time you will obviously work with numerous coaches, and you learn from each one. Hopefully I have picked up some good habits from the majority of them but also learnt from their mistakes as well.
“The role will allow me to work with the first team lads too and I am keen to help wherever Brian sees fit. Brian has explained how the club will give me the tools to be able to communicate and get my knowledge across to the players as a coach which will help make me become a confident coach who can get his ideas across.
“Brian’s pedigree speaks for itself. He is a young British coach who has done his apprenticeship and now has one of biggest jobs in the game so he is certainly someone that all young British coaches should look up to. Learning from Brian and his staff will be invaluable to me and fantastic for my education as a coach as I set out on the coaching ladder; there are few better people around to learn from so it is great for me on a personal level too,” added Morley.
Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington said, “We are delighted to have secured Adrian. This appointment came about as part of our review of last season. Under Simon Bell and Chris Plume our Academy has been recognised as outstanding by the RFL in their annual independent audit of all academies and we have an outstanding crop of young players. This is a significant investment by the club in developing those future stars whilst undoubtedly having a player of Adrian’s experience in our coaching staff will also be a key asset moving forward.”