WHEN Leeds Rhinos boss Brian McDermott assesses Adrian Morley as he begins his new life as a coach, you do not expect any reference to “mass murderer” cropping up.
For all the fearsome ex-Great Britain prop had a volatile nature at times during his glittering career, that may be a little harsh.
However, it is the way McDermott described the ex-Great Britain prop’s ruthless style from his own recollections of playing against him more than two decades ago.
He is now relishing seeing how the former England captain develops in his new role as academy head coach back at Headingley.
Morley – a relative novice in this field – began work last week and, fittingly given his own career started there, takes charge of the Rhinos Under-19s team as well as assisting at first-team level and fulfilling an ambassadorial role on matchday.
Fellow ex-prop McDermott, who played against a young Morley when at Bradford Bulls, said: “I always thought he was a bit of a psycho on the field and I don’t mean as in giving penalties away.
“I always thought he was like one of those mass murderers with a sullen look in their eye and there was something a bit unnerving about him.
“I remember him playing in the 1996 or 1997 Challenge Cup semi-final and he was just one of the dominant forces on the field.
“He was only young but all our pack were running away from him. He always had an edge about him as a player but I always thought he had a mental strength about him, too.”
Having won the 1999 Challenge Cup final with Leeds, Morley went on to enhance his reputation further during a fine six-year stint in Australia with Sydney Roosters and remains the only Englishman to win NRL and Super League Grand Finals. He returned in Warrington Wolves colours in 2007 and finished his career with hometown Salford Red Devils at the end of 2015 before a one-off game with Leeds against New Zealand.
With 53 caps for England and Great Britain, Morley, 39, is a legend of the sport. McDermott admitted: “Adrian has a presence about him and I normally dismiss statements like that, but he absolutely does.
“He’s got to cut his teeth as a coach, so he’s going to come and be our Under-19s coach and find out what it’s like standing in front of a group and impart some knowledge upon them.
“But in that process he’ll spend a lot of time with me and the first team as we show him the ropes.
“When you meet him for a coffee he’s anything but a coach but on another level when you dig past that he’s got an incredible amount of humility.
“For a bloke who’s done what he’s done, he almost apologises for sitting in front of you.
“Once you get past that, you’ve got a bloke who gets it and understands the game.
“I think he’ll have a real good talent in imparting some of that knowledge – I think there’s a real good coach in there.
“If he can sit on the likes of Brad Singleton, Jack Ormondroyd, even Adam Cuthbertson and the rest of the forwards, as well as those coming through, he can have an influence on them.”