Kevin Sinfield looking to fix Leeds Rhinos as Dave Furner pays ultimate price

A CHANGE of coach was needed to get Leeds Rhinos back on the “right path”, director of rugby Kevin Sinfield says.

Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 6:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 7:15 am
FAREWELL: Leeds Rhinos head coach David Furner at his last match in charge at Salford. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Richard Agar has taken over as interim coach after Dave Furner was sacked just six months into a three-year contract.

Furner’s short reign came to an end with Rhinos third from bottom in Betfred Super League having won only four of their 14 league matches.

Explaining why he felt he had to act, Sinfield said: “In situations like this honesty is key and being truthful and I just thought we were on the wrong path both on and off the field.”

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TOUGH DECISION: Leeds Rhinos' director of rugby Kevin Sinfield, pictured with axed head coach Dave Furner on the Australian's appointment last year.

He added: “My job is to try and direct the rugby organisation and the rugby side of things and this is not what I envisaged or where I thought we’d be.

“I can either sit here and let it happen and unfold in front of my eyes and do nothing about it, or I can make a tough decision and try and fix some things up.

“I think the easy choice was to let it continue, or we can try and fix it now.

“It has been horrible, more so for Dave, but we are not a four wins from 14 squad and we will, hopefully, get some better performances from the players by changing the direction of travel.”

Furner and Sinfield were teammates for Rhinos in 2003 and 2004 and have remained friends since then.

It was Sinfield’s decision to appoint Furner and the former Rhinos captain said he does feel responsible.

“Of course I do,” he said. “You draw up a list of categories where you’d like someone to tick each box and Dave certainly did that. He has played here, he lived in the UK for four years, he knew our game and knew what Super League was about.

“He has been a head coach before and an assistant. He was desperate to be a head coach again.

“He had all the credentials and I know him. I know him pretty well and we have had a long-standing friendship.

“It makes it tough because when you analyse it like that you wonder how we’ve ended up where we have.

“It is tough for all of us involved, but I think we have to pull together as a club. We need to get some stability back and we need to try and drive us forward again.”

Furner’s departure was not a reaction to last Friday’s 28-16 loss at Salford Red Devils, Sinfield insisted.

But he said: “If you look at our last four performances we’ve had two halves of rugby that have been outstanding, against Huddersfield and Hull KR, both home games.

“The first 40 minutes there were incredible, then we’ve had two second half collapses where we nearly ended up losing.

“We had a really poor performance at Wakefield and a poor performance at Salford. It is not only that, I can cope with being four from 14 if I feel we are moving in the right direction and things are improving. Sadly I didn’t see that.”

Agar will be in charge for Saturday’s Coral Challenge Cup tie at Bradford Bulls and Sinfield said he does not have a long-term replacement in mind.

“We will see, we will take our time,” he confirmed.

“There will be some small changes in and around what we do and we will try and get ourselves back on a course I think is befitting of the club.

“The players have a huge part to play in that, as do all the staff and myself. I have every confidence in Richard, he is a proven Super League coach, he has done it on the international stage with France and I am fully behind him.

“The staff are right behind him, the players’ reaction this [yesterday] morning was very good and we look forward to Saturday because ultimately that’s where we’re going to get judged, by what we do on the field. It’s really important we go out and perform well.”