Turner was ‘one of the greats’, believes Leeds president Jepson

Former Leeds coach Derek Turner.
Former Leeds coach Derek Turner.
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FORMER Wakefield, Leeds and Castleford coach Derek Turner, who has died aged 82, was “one of the greats”.

That is the view of Rhinos president Harry Jepson OBE, who has paid tribute to Turner following his death last Friday.

As reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post yesterday, Turner signed for Wakefield from Oldham in 1959 and went on to lead Trinity to seven trophies in five years, including Challenge Cup success in 1960, 1962 and 1963.

“Derek was coach of Leeds from 1969 until 1972,” Jepson recalled.

“Leeds went to Wembley twice, won the League Championship in 1972 and won the League Leaders’ trophy during his time at Headingley.

“He was a good coach, but it was as a player that he made his mark on the game.

“He was one of the best back-row forwards I have ever seen and he was highly respected by the Australians, having toured with Great Britain.

“He was a great player and everywhere in the world where the game was played he was highly respected.

“His death is a great loss to the game.”

Jepson added: “He was a successful coach for Leeds, but he didn’t play for Leeds unfortunately.

“He received a trophy at Wembley three times in four years during his time at Wakefield.

“His style of play was forward-oriented, which came from his style as a player.

“He had a tremendous record in a very good Oldham side and then went back to Wakefield before coaching at Castleford.

“Mal Reilly was among his young protégés at Castleford and I know Mal saw Derek as a great influence on his career,” he said.

“Derek had been ill for some time however the news of his death is still a deeply sad occasion.

“We have certainly lost one of the game’s greatest.”