NEW BOSS Dave Furner will arrive at Leeds Rhinos early next month ahead of the start of pre-season training.
Rhinos fans were thrown into a panic on Wednesday morning following a media report in Australia which claimed Furner was set to back out of his contract with Leeds.
But Furner, who played for Rhinos in 2003 and 2004 and has signed a three-year coaching contract, ended doubts over his move by confirming he is booked on a flight on November 5 and is “committed and excited” about his new role.
Wednesday’s report claimed NRL club South Sydney, where Furner was No 2 until the end of the 2018 season, were certain to part company with coach Anthony Seibold as he was unwilling to extend his contract beyond next season and is in line to take over from England boss Wayne Bennett at Brisbane Broncos.
That, the report said, would open up an opportunity for Furner to move into the Souths hot seat for next year and beyond. In fact, Bennett was yesterday unveiled as Souths coach for 2020-21.
The report also alleged there was a get-out clause in his Rhinos contract allowing him to join an NRL club if the chance came up. Rhinos denied the speculation from the start and Furner has now emphatically stated he will be in Leeds next month, before pre-season training begins.
I don’t want to put any fuel there with any speculation, but I am booked to fly on November 5 so I am very committed to coming over and very excited about it as well.Dave Furner
“I am very much [looking forward to coming to Rhinos],” Furner said. “Since the appointment, I have been looking forward to my relationship again with Leeds Rhinos, Gary [Hetherington, chief executive] and obviously Kevin [Sinfield, director of rugby] and the fans.
“I don’t want to put any fuel there with any speculation, but I am booked to fly on November 5 so I am very committed to coming over and very excited about it as well.”
Furner has been working on Leeds’ pre-season plans as he prepares to leave Australia and met with new signing Konrad Hurrell last week.
Hurrell and another recruit Tuimoala Lolohea worked with Furner when he was a member of Tonga’s coaching staff.
Furner confirmed he is “trying to strengthen the squad”.
And he added: “I am looking forward to getting over there to meet the old squad, just to start building a relationship with those players also.
“I am excited about Konrad and Tui [Lolohea] as well.
“Obviously Tui played in the Tonga game against Australia [last weekend] and I thought was quite good. Talking to both of them, they are very excited too. From my experience there as a player, they are very excited about playing at Headingley for Leeds. It has been busy the last three or four weeks.”
Hetherington insisted he was not relieved at Furner’s comments and never doubted he would take up his new post as planned.
“It was pure media speculation,” he said. “There is no get-out clause and no question of him not coming to coach us.”