RIVALS BRADFORD Bulls have made a “smart choice” in appointing James Lowes as their new coach, Leeds Rhinos boss Brian McDermott says.
Lowes – who replaces the sacked Francis Cummins – joined Bradford yesterday after just over a year in charge of Rhinos’ rugby union sister club Leeds Carnegie.
The former Hunslet, Leeds and Bradford hooker – who coached Warrington Wolves in 2008 and 2009 – was McDermott’s assistant from 2011 until he switched codes and continued to work with Rhinos on a part-time basis during his stint in rugby union.
McDermott, who played alongside Lowes at Bradford during their glory years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, said: “Jimmy is a smart choice by the Bulls.
“They have been through a very turbulent period since 2006 and I know first off they will be seeking to stay in Super League.
“That is not impossible, but they will also be looking for some stability. Jimmy fits the bill for them because he understands how that club was before all their success.
“He joined at the start of 1996, when it was just a journeyman club – not poor, but not great. He saw the transition into one of the powerhouses in the league for a while and anybody who has been through that transition is qualified to maybe take it back there again.”
McDermott added: “Everybody at Leeds is disappointed Jimmy has left, but not disappointed with him. He is an outstanding coach and in terms of what he delivers on the field and his skill-set, he would be up there with the best.
“He has been about and been under very good coaches and he has got a certain way of delivery which is unique to himself. All that makes him a very good coach and we are always disappointed to see quality coaches leaving.”
Paying tribute to Lowes’ contribution at Headingley, McDermott said: “Jimmy also fitted in well at Leeds Rugby, whether Rhinos or Carnegie and he’s been a very influential part of what Rhinos have done over the last two or three years.
“He was a huge part of our success in 2011 and 2013 and he did specific sessions with us on a regular basis when he went to Carnegie. But from Jimmy’s point of view, opportunities to be a head coach in Super League don’t come along very often. I can’t fault his desire to fulfil his ambitions there, at a club where he spent a long time and had some success.”
McDermott and Lowes will cross swords on August 1, when Rhinos face Bulls at Headingley. The Leeds boss joked: “We have played together and worked together and we are great friends, but now he can p*** off to Bradford.”
Meanwhile, McDermott –who is currently assisted by under-19s boss Chris Plume and Hunslet Hawks coach Barry Eaton - confirmed he hopes to appoint a replacement for Lowes. He said: “We are and we have been looking, but it’s worth mentioning that Barry and Chris is working out very well. It is something we will continue to look at.”
Meanwhile, Carnegie chairman Sir Ian McGeechan, said: “We are disappointed to be losing James Lowes, but we understand his desire to return to Bradford Bulls and we wish him well.
“Our search for a new coach begins immediately. Myself and director of rugby, Chris Gibson, will take our time to find the right man. This may take some time and in the meantime I will oversee the coaching staff and pre-season arrangements.”