Butterill named England Youth assistant coach

Leeds Rhinos scholarship head coach Mark Butterill will gain his first international experience whenever Rugby League resumes, having been appointed to the coaching staff for the England Youth set-up.

Having taken on the role earlier this year, Butterill said he is looking forward to working with the next generation of England Rugby League talent having overseen some of Leeds’ upcoming stars over the last five years. “It’s a really exciting opportunity for me:”, he said. “One of the things I’m really passionate about is developing young players and making the players that people don’t see as being world beaters better players and better people. To have the chance to do this for the England Youth is a great honour.

For Butterill it is the next step in his coaching career, having coached the reformed Bramley Buffaloes side, which won the Conference National Grand Final in 2009, as well as Featherstone Rovers’ Under-20s with John Bastian in 2013 and Under-18s team alongside Daryl Powell. He joined the Rhinos as a part time scholarship coach in 2015 and two years later was made full time scholarship head coach, overseeing the exciting talent that is breaking into Super League, including the likes of Harry Newman, Tom Holroyd and Alex Sutcliffe.

Speaking about the importance of the role, he said: “Not only do I get to work with the elite players at the scholarship age group but I’m also getting to work outside the bubble that is Leeds Rhinos as well and gaining different experiences which I can pass on to our scholarship players too. It also means that the Leeds players that earn selection have someone there that they know and they’ve worked with and I think that’s quite comforting. Like me, they get the chance to learn from the other coaches and players and take away some really valuable experiences, bring it back to Leeds and hopefully make us better and stronger.”

England Youth are one of six teams in the England Performance Unit that was set up after last Rugby League World Cup in 2017 under the direction of the Leeds director of rugby Kevin Sinfield in his previous role as the RFL’s Rugby Director.

The RFL will shortly make announcements confirming the coaching teams for the England Youth and Academy teams, having amended their original plans because of the disruption and uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus suspension.

The Coronavirus outbreak has postponed any plans for the moment across rugby league in the UK and broken up what would have been Butterill’s first few months in the role. “The plan for the year was to have training camps throughout the Easter period, a two-game test series in June over in France and then a test match against Wales in August but obviously with Coronavirus, there are still a few question marks. It all depends on the situation, the lockdown and the measures imposed. Everyone is looking towards football and that could give us a bit of an idea as to which avenue we’re going to go down so we’re staying patient for the time being.

Speaking about the appointment, Leeds Rhinos Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield said: “This is great news for Mark and thoroughly deserved. As a club it is great when our staff and players gain international recognition and we are delighted for him.”