LEEDS RHINOS legend Barrie McDermott is to leave the club at the end of the season.
McDermott spent a decade at Leeds as a player, followed by another 10 years on the backroom staff.
He revealed today he is leaving to begin a management and player-welfare business with his friend and fellow Sky Sports rugby league pundit Terry O’Connor.
McDermott’s role as player welfare manager at Leeds will be taken over by Kylie Leuluai, who is to retire as a player at the end of the current campaign.
“It has been an honour to work at Leeds,” said Oldham- born McDermott, who joined Leeds from Wigan in September, 1995 and was a Grand Final winner in 2004.
“It has been a privilege to be here for 20 years and I have met some lovely people, who started as colleagues and are now close friends.”
McDermott, 43, added: “When I joined the club was having a difficult time and it looked like the stadium might become a Tesco.
“I am leaving the club at a time when it is the best in the game – it is the best-run and the players are phenomenal and good blokes as well.”
Since hanging up his boots, McDermott – who was the first Leeds player to win the big four of Challenge Cup, league leaders’ shield, Grand Final, World Club Challenge – has coached in Rhinos’ lower grades.
He has also worked as the club’s youth boss, bringing through several members of the current first team squad, including Stevie Ward, Liam Sutcliffe and Brad Singleton.
Explaining his decision to leave, he said: “I thought the time was right, having done 10 years as a player and 10 after that.
“I have worked closely with Kylie, so it will be a smooth transition.”
McDermott’s interest in player welfare was sparked by the death of his friend and former Rhinos team-mate Terry Newton.
Of his new role, he added: “Terry O’Connor and I will be looking after the welfare of players and making sure they get legal and career advice.
“It is difficult for players to adjust after they retire.
“We have been lucky to have a good career and a good post-career and we want to help other players do the same.”