Ambitious David Furner plots out rebuilding job at Leeds Rhinos

New Leeds Rhinos' head coach David Furner. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA
New Leeds Rhinos' head coach David Furner. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA
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INCOMING HEAD coach Dave Furner is determined to bring success back to Leeds Rhinos, but has warned it will not be an instant fix.

Furner, 47, will step down from his role as assistant-coach with South Sydney Rabbitohs at the end of the NRL season to rejoin the club where he finished his playing career in 2004.

The Australian has signed a three-year deal at a time when Rhinos’ Betfred Super League future is in the balance, but insisted he knows what he is getting into and is excited by the prospect of turning things around.

“I think the focus for Leeds at the moment in the middle-eights is to have success there, then it’s just about looking at the best direction for the club and the fans and go for that,” he said.

“It excites me again to work with people who’ve been very successful with the club.

“It has had tremendous success and we have to look at how do we build?

“I am pretty excited about that and I obviously have some ideas about how to build it back to being one of the top clubs in Super League.

“That’s something I – and we all – see as a good challenge.”

Furner stressed: “The first goal is just getting through the middle-eights.

“That’s very important, then it’s about implementing the style of how we’re going to play.

David Furner, left, Willie Poching, Kevin Sinfield, Ryan Bailey celebrate. their 2004 Grand Final win over Bradford Bulls. Picture: John Clifton/SWpix.com.

David Furner, left, Willie Poching, Kevin Sinfield, Ryan Bailey celebrate. their 2004 Grand Final win over Bradford Bulls. Picture: John Clifton/SWpix.com.

“Certainly I am excited about where the team can go, but it is going to take a little bit of time.

“First we need to get through another three games and tick that box, then we sit down and map out where we want to go.”

A goal-kicking second-rower, Furner spent two seasons as a player with Wigan Warriors before joining Rhinos in 2003.

He hung up his boots after the 2004 Grand Final triumph and has since been head coach of Canberra Raiders, where he spent his entire NRL playing career, as well as assistant there and at North Queensland Cowboys, Australia and Tonga.

Certainly I am excited about where the team can go, but it is going to take a little bit of time. First we need to get through another three games and tick that box, then we sit down and map out where we want to go.

New Leeds Rhinos’ head coach, David Furner

Of his return to Leeds, he said “I am tremendously excited.

“To get an opportunity as a coach at such a prestigious club is a privilege.

“It’s the atmosphere, the crowd, the South Standers, it’s everything about Leeds that excites me.”

Furner will work alongside director of rugby Kevin Sinfield who was Rhinos’ captain during his time as a player there.

He had been linked with Leeds since Brian McDermott was sacked in July and revealed: “I was talking to Kevin, I congratulated him on the appointment.

“I kept in touch with Kev and Gary [Hetherington, Rhinos’ chief executive] and the club itself, [commercial director] Rob Oates, so I have always kept that connection.

Leeds Rhinos director of rugby Kevin Sinfield. Picture: Paul Currie/SWpix.com

Leeds Rhinos director of rugby Kevin Sinfield. Picture: Paul Currie/SWpix.com

“I said to Kev if he needed [help with] recruitment don’t hesitate to ring.

“One thing led to another and there was an opportunity and an interest.

“With my family now being a bit older and the success of the South Sydney Rabbitohs, I wouldn’t say it was an easy one [decision], but once the opportunity arose I looked at the past and the club and the people involved and the fans and it’s just a really exciting opportunity that I didn’t want to pass by.

“I am super excited to start.

“I have always had the ambition to go back into head coaching, but it had to be the right club.

“For me, that decision has been made.”