Leeds Rhinos: McDermott happy to go it alone with support from backroom

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Leeds Rhinos boss Brian McDermott is confident his “outstanding” backroom staff is strong enough to manage without the appointment of a new assistant-coach.

McDermott has been without an official assistant since James Lowes left to take over the reins at Rhinos’ rugby union sister club Leeds Carnegie last June.

The Rhinos coach has not ruled out bringing in a new assistant, but said an appointment is unlikely to be made before the Super League season begins in two months’ time – if at all.

Rhinos’ highly-regarded head of athletic performance Jason Davidson has signed a new contract and the club are in the process of appointing an assistant strength and conditioning coach to replace Richard Hunwicks, who has joined Salford Red Devils.

Under-19s coach Chris Plume has taken on added responsibility since last summer and McDermott confirmed Lowes and Hunslet Hawks boss Barry Eaton will also be part of Rhinos’ set-up for the 2014 campaign.

“Our staff won’t be too far away from where we started the 2013 season,” McDermott revealed.

“Jimmy Lowes will be involved a lot, doing some on-field sessions and Jimmy and I will converse, especially on planning and what the team looks like going forward.

“Barry Eaton has got an outstanding record and a great pedigree as a kicker. He will be coming in and doing some kicking stuff.

“We have already got some exceptional kickers, but we are always looking for different ways of doing things and improvements and Barry will oversee a fair bit of that.”

McDermott said he has identified possible assistants from outside the current set-up.

“We have been talking to some people,” he said. “But it has got to work, it has got to suit us. I am not keen on bringing in a full-time assistant just for the sake of it. The likelihood is we are going to go into next year with myself, Jimmy Lowes, Barry Eaton and Chris Plume – who has done an outstanding job with the 19s as well as assistant-coach – and I think that’s a very good staff, with everything covered.

“We have got a bit of innovation and a bit of continuity as well, but we haven’t ruled out the option of bringing somebody in, should the right man become available.”

Meanwhile, Davidson, above, has signed a contract of employment, which means he is no longer working on a fixed-term basis.

McDermott said: “Jason has been here a number of years and he has a great track record.

“He has done a lot of skills coaching, as well as being a very good strength and conditioning coach.

“A lot of what he does has an element of skills in it. There’s always an element of coaching, which is great.

“It makes things more efficient and rarely do we do an absolute conditioning session where players are running for running’s sake.

“There’s always a slant put on it where they’ve got to be aware of a particular scenario or situation in a game. I could leave Jason to that, he is almost like another coach on the staff and his track record speaks for itself.

“He has overseen some great success for the club.”

Jonathan Power – who also works in football for Huddersfield Town and England – has been appointed as head of medical services.

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