Leeds Rhinos: Richard Hunwicks back at Headingley to help bring out best of Rhinos’ squad

RICHARD HUNWICKS says the opportunity to return to Leeds Rhinos was one he could not turn down.

Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 4:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 8:17 am
Catalan Dragons' coach Steve McNamara & performance coach Richard Hunwicks with the Super League League Leader's Shield. Picture by Laurent Selles/Catalan Dragons/SWpix.com

The former England head of human performance is back at Headingley for a second spell after bringing a six-year-stay at the Rhinos to an end back in 2013.

He returns to lead all areas of performance regarding the first-team squad and will work directly alongside head coach Richard Agar.

He is back at the club having enjoyed a prosperous time away, most recently having spent four years at Catalans Dragons in which time he helped the French club win the Challenge Cup, the League Leaders Shield and, most recently, reach their first-ever Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford, where they lost out to St Helens.

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GREAT DAYS: Richard Hunwicks, second right, pictured with David O'Sullivan, Danny McGuire and Jason Davidson, far right, with the 2011 Super LEague Grand Final trophy. Picture: Vaughn Ricley/SWPix.com

The youthful nature of the Rhinos’ squad, which reached the play-off semi-finals this year, proved to be one of the biggest draws for Hunwicks, who already knows some of his new charges from his time spent with the England programme.

“Having spoken to Richard (Agar), this was a great opportunity,” explained Hunwicks.

“It is going to be a fresh challenge to help this group of young players develop further.

“They are a vibrant squad with a great deal of potential who are a credit to the organisation; which continues to produce quality players. I have worked with some of the boys in various England sides and I know the Rhinos mentality will be ingrained into them.”

Richard Hunwicks, pictured when Leeds Rhinos' strength and conditioning coach, chats with Rob Burrow. Picture: Steve Riding.

Hunwicks was keen to emphasise his thanks to the Catalans organisation for their support during his four seasons there.

“My first period with the Rhinos was massive for me in my early years of development,” he added. “I have been fortunate to work with world-class players and coaches throughout my career, especially in the last four years at Catalans.

“I’d like to thank the club’s president Bernard Guasch, Steve McNamara and the whole club for the opportunity they gave me with there.

“I would also like to thank especially the Catalan people, who made me and my family feel so welcome. I will always be grateful for that and I hope I have repaid the faith they showed in me over the last few years.”

HIGH UP: Richard Hunwicks, pictured at the John Smith's Stadium in 2016 during his time with England Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Rhinos’ head coach Agar said Hunwicks was the ideal appointment in order for the club to get the most out of its pool of young talent, which continued to emerge into the first-team ranks throughout 2021.

“He is used to working with world-class players and I know he will bring the very best out of our group,” said Agar. “Richard will drive our high performance department to be the best it can possibly be.

“He has a proven track record of success, in particular with England and Catalans Dragons and, personally, I am looking forward to working with him and seeing him develop our young players to fulfil their potential.”

Elsewhere, the Rhinos are set to appoint an experienced lead physiotherapist, along with a number of other support staff.

Leeds Rhinos' stalwart Jason Davidson will undertake a new management role at the club. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com

Club stalwart Jason Davidson, meanwhile, will undertake a new management role incorporating the team manager position with the first team but also working alongside other Rhinos’ teams to raise standards throughout the club.