Ex-Leeds Rhinos boss Brian McDermott touted as future NRL coach with South Sydney Rabbitohs linked

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“Very impressive” former Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott has been touted as a potential NRL head-coach by one of the Australian game’s top pundits.

Phil ‘Gus’ Gould talked up the four-time Grand Final-winning coach following South Sydney Rabbitohs’ decision to sack ex-Wakefield Trinity player Jason Demetriou. Souths have appointed Ben Hornby as interim head-coach for the rest of this season, but are searching for a full-time replacement.

Speaking on Wide World of Sports' Six Tackles With Gus podcast, Gould revealed he spent 90 minutes chatting rugby league with McDermott - who is an assistant-coach at NRL giants Newcastle Knights - and came away having “learned a lot”.

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He said: “He reached out to me wanting to talk footy, he is very, very impressive. The reason I took the time to do it is because Andrew Johns said he has made a big difference at Newcastle, he has been very helpful for them. He came in last year when they had that big run and got to the finals. He is a really interesting man.”

Brian McDermott seen in 2018 during his time as Leeds Rhinos coach. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.Brian McDermott seen in 2018 during his time as Leeds Rhinos coach. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Brian McDermott seen in 2018 during his time as Leeds Rhinos coach. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

McDermott was a successful player for Bradford Bulls and had spells as assistant-coach at Leeds and in charge of Harlequins before moving into the Rhinos hot seat ahead of the 2011 season. He guided them to four Grand Final wins and two Challenge Cup triumphs - including the treble in 2015 - but was sacked in 2018. He later coached Toronto Wolfpack and Featherstone Rovers and moved to Australia for the 2022 season.

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Gould stressed his current club are keen to keep him. “They speak very highly of him at the Newcastle Knights,” he added. “He was sort of asking me the question ‘do you think an English Super League coach will ever break into coaching in the NRL’?

“I am not telling Souths how to suck eggs, but there’s a bloke who might be available to any of the clubs looking for a new coach. I was very impressed with him. I really enjoyed his company and the conversation. He looked like a bloke that would certainly drive culture and I really enjoyed his ideas on rugby league and his demeanour. I sat down and had a chat with him and I am better for the experience, I learned a lot.”

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Brian McDermott coached Featherstone Rovers before moving to Australia. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Brian McDermott coached Featherstone Rovers before moving to Australia. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Brian McDermott coached Featherstone Rovers before moving to Australia. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

After a 10-year playing career, Gould coached top Aussie clubs Canterbury Bulldogs, Penrith Panthers and Sydney Roosters, as well as New South Wales in State of Origin. He is now football general manager at Canterbury Bulldogs, as well as a rugby league broadcaster.

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