Struggling Leeds Rhinos have parted company with head coach Dave Furner.
The shock decision comes with Rhinos third from bottom in Betfred Super League having won only five of Furner’s 15 competitive games in charge - one of those being a rout of part-timers Workington Town in the Coral Challenge Cup.
Assistant-coach Richard Agar will take charge of the team on an “interim” basis ahead of Saturday’s Challenge Cup derby at Bradford Bulls.
Furner is the second coach sacked by Rhinos in less than a year.
Brian McDermott was axed on July 2 last year and Furner took over in the off-season on a three-year contract.
A Tuesday morning statement from the club said: “Over the weekend, Leeds Rhinos Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield and Chief Executive Gary Hetherington met with Furner and it was decided that the club needed to go in a fresh direction.”
In the statement, Sinfield - a former teammate of Furner at Leeds in 2003-2004 - said: “This was a very difficult decision and not one we have taken lightly.
“David was an outstanding candidate to be our head coach and was my first choice for the job.
“Unfortunately, we have not started the season as we had all hoped and action was needed to move in a fresh direction with this group of players this season.
“I would like to thank David for his commitment to the club, especially the sacrifices he made to travel from his home in Australia to take up our challenge.”
Sinfield added: “Richard Agar will act as interim head coach for the time being. We are fortunate to have a coach of his experience already on our staff which means we do not need to rush into making a permanent appointment.”
Hetherington said: “This season has been really disappointing so far with team performances well below what we expected.
“When Kevin returned to the club last summer his primary focus was to restore the team to challenge for honours and he has the full support of our board to do this.”
Agar joined Rhinos in the off-season in a non-coaching capacity, but became Furner’s assistant when James Lowes left the club last month.