New look for Rhinos back room team in 2019

Leeds Rhinos will have a new look backroom team in place for the 2019 season following a review of the club’s rugby department.

Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield has devised the blue print for the new look set up that will include the arrival of Dave Furner as the club’s new Head Coach working with James Lowes and Chev Walker.

Head of Physiotherapy Andy Barker left the Rhinos at the end of last season to join the Football Association and Leeds are pleased to welcome Alex Morrell to the club from Yorkshire Carnegie. Alex will work alongside Gareth Robinson to form a new and strong Physio team.

A newly created position of Team Manager will be taken up by long standing staff member Jason Davidson. Davidson, who has been with the club since 2006, will take charge of all logistical operations for the team.

Chris Black will re-join the Rhinos from the Rugby Football League, where he is part of Wayne Bennett’s backroom team in the England side. Black will be the club’s new Head of Physical Performance.

The biggest change in the rugby operation will come within the area of player and coaching development. This will be headed up by a new Head of Player and Coach Development, who will be appointed in due course. They will oversee a number of areas including a new Coach Education department led by Barry Eaton that will focus on developing community coaching in Leeds as well as developing the club’s own young coaches. In addition, there will be a Junior Player Pathway department that focuses on developing and attracting new talent to the game of Rugby League which will aid the Scholarship and Academy departments by increasing the player pool available at junior level.

Rob Burrow, who led the Rhinos U19s back to the Academy Grand Final in his first season as coach last season, will continue that role next season.

Finally, the professional rugby department will now incorporate the Leeds Rhinos Womens team, which this season was operated by the Leeds Rhinos Foundation. Leon Crick will become a full time manager for the Womens team for 2019 as they look to build on an outstanding debut campaign in 2018.

Commenting on the changes, Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield said, “These new appointments represent the start of a new era and direction at Leeds Rhinos and we are delighted to secure three crucial positions for 2019 in a new Head Coach, Head Physio and Head of Physical Performance for the 1st team. Leeds Rhinos is a huge organisation, and the first team squad and their performances are firmly at the top of that pyramid. When I returned to the club, we spoke about reviewing our entire operation at the end of the season and that is something that has taken time and a great deal of consideration to make sure we have the right structure in place to take the club forward and make us stronger.

“For many years, we had one of the leanest backroom teams in the game but there comes a time when we need to expand to remain competitive in the ever changing modern game. I would like to thank the Board of Directors for taking on board my recommendations and I am sure this structure will give us the competitive edge we need to challenge for honours again.”

Chief Executive Gary Hetherington added, “Firstly, I would like to thank Kevin for the painstaking work he has done on the structure since his return to the club. He has reviewed our entire operation and identified areas where we need to strengthen and add additional resource. We have been a highly successful club for a number of years and much of that has been down to the outstanding dedication and commitment of our backroom team.

“Our challenge now is to build on that work and allow everyone to fulfil their potential. An example of that is our focus on coach development. Two decades ago, we gave a group of talented young players the tools to create our most successful team, likewise now we must support those young coaches to reach new goals as coaches and take our club forward. The Board of Directors fully support Kevin’s vision for the future and have committed to back that with the investment required.”