Leeds Rhinos: How Rhinos’ 10 coaches from the Super League era compare

INCLUDING THE caretaker duo of Kevin Sinfield and James Lowes, Richard Agar, who resigned on Monday, was Leeds Rhinos’ 10th coach of the Super League era, which began in 1996.

By Peter Smith
Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 4:39 pm

Here, with stats provided by Andrew Dalton, we look back at the success rate of the men in charge of Rhinos over the past 26 years.

Dean Bell (1996-1997) – Played: 58, Won: 27, Drew: one, Lost: 30, Win percentage: 46.55

A former Leeds player, New Zealander Dean Bell returned to the club at the end of the winter era as an assistant to coach Doug Laughton and found himself in charge when the coach quit before the first Super League season.

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Graham Murray (left) Brian McDermott, Tony Smith and Daryl Powell.

Leeds were in a financial crisis and flirted with relegation in 1996, winning only six league games, but Bell did better in his second and final season when a cash injection following chairman Paul Caddick and chief executive Gary Hetherington’s takeover allowed him to strengthen the squad.

Graham Murray (1998-1999) – Played: 65, Won: 48, Drew: one, Lost: 16, Win percentage: 73.84

At the end of 1997 Bell moved into a new role as head of youth and Australian Graham Murray took over. An experienced coach, Murray was recruited from short-lived Australian Super League club Hunter Mariners and transformed Rhinos’ fortunes during his two seasons in charge.

They were Grand Final runners-up at the end of 1998 and won the Challenge Cup the following year.

Graphic: Michelle Kilner.

Dean Lance (2000-April 2021) – Played: 43, Won: 27, Drew: none, Lost: 16, Win percentage: 62.79

Murray, who died in 2013, returned to Australia after just two seasons with Leeds and was replaced by another Aussie, Dean Lance, who had previously coached Perth Reds and Adelaide Rams.

Under him, Rhinos reached their second successive Challenge Cup final, being beaten by Bradford Bulls, but lost their first five Super League games. In an astonishing turnaround, they went on a 13-match winning run later in the 2000 season.

Daryl Powell (April 2001-03) – Played: 92, Won: 58, Drew: four, Lost: 30, Win percentage: 63.04

Former Leeds Rhinos coach Graham Murray

When Dean Lance was axed after another disappointing start to the season, in 2001, Daryl Powell, who had retired as a player at the end of the previous campaign, took over the reins.

Rhinos finished fifth and fourth in his first two seasons, before winning their opening 10 games in 2003. They were runners-up to Bradford Bulls in both the league and Challenge Cup that season.

Tony Smith (2004-2007) – Played: 134, Won: 98, Drew: 3, Lost: 33, Win percentage: 73.13

Australian Tony Smith was brought in from Huddersfield Giants to replace Daryl Powell at the end of 2003 and had a huge impact. Leeds lost only two of 28 league games in his debut season, finishing nine points clear on the table and winning the Grand Final for the first time.

Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott and captain Kevin Sinfield celebrate winning the Challenge Cup in 2015 against Hull KR.

They added the World Club title in 2005 and were Challenge Cup runners-up, then regained the Super League crown in Smith’s final game, in October, 2007.

Brian McClennan (2008-10) – Played: 85, Won: 56, Drew: one, Lost: 28, Win percentage: 65.88

When Smith announced he would leave at the end of 2007 to coach England, Rhinos targeted Kiwi Brian McClennan, who had led New Zealand to victory in the 2005 Tri-Nations final against Australia.

Though he lacked club coaching experience at the top level, McClennan was famous for his motivational skills and guided Rhinos to successive Grand Final wins and first place on the table in 2009.

Brian McDermott (2011-July 2018) – Played: 265, Won: 162, Drew: six, Lost: 97, Win percentage: 61.13

Previously an assistant to Tony Smith, Brian McDermott returned from a spell coaching London Broncos and was set to be McClennan’s right-hand man. But took charge when the New Zealander brought forward his planned exit from the club.

David Furner lasted around three months as head coach in 2019, losing 10 of his 15 games in charge. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Leeds’ most successful coach, he was at the helm for four Grand Final wins, two Challenge Cup triumphs and a World Club title. Most memorably, he masterminded the treble in 2015.

Kevin Sinfield/James Lowes (July-September 2018) – Played: 12, Won: six, Drew: one, Lost: five, Win percentage: 50

After McDermott was axed, former players Kevin Sinfield - back at Leeds as director of rugby - and James Lowes, who had been McDermott’s assistant, took over on a temporary basis.

David Furner (Feb-May 2019) – Played: 15, Won: five, Lost: 10, Win percentage: 33.33

A member of Rhinos’ 2004 Grand Final-winning side and ex-NRL head coach, Furner was appointed on a three-year contract but, with no sign of an improvement in performances, was sacked after just 15 games.

Richard Agar (May 2019-March 2022) – Played: 71, Won: 36, Lost: 35, Win percentage: 50.70

An experienced head coach, Richard Agar joined Leeds in a non-coaching capacity at the end of 2019, became Furner’s assistant when James Lowes left the club and then took over the top job, initially on a caretaker basis.

He saved Rhinos from relegation in his first season, won the Challenge Cup the following year and secured successive fifth-place finishes. But he stepped down on Monday after a poor start to this season.