Leeds Rhinos announce backroom shake-up

James Lowes and Kevin Sinfield.
James Lowes and Kevin Sinfield.
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LEEDS RHINOS have announced a new-look backroom team for the 2019 season.

The shake-up includes a change of role for long-serving staff member Jason Davidson.

Jason Davidson.

Jason Davidson.

A new head physio is being brought in and former assistant-coach Barry Eaton and conditioner Chris Black are returning to the club.

The changes have been masterminded by director of rugby Kevin Sinfield ahead of head coach David Furner’s arrival next month.

Rhinos say first-term coach James Lowes is staying at the club along with assistant-boss Chev Walker.

Davidson, who has been at the Rhinos 12 years and was previously head of athletic performance, will become team manager in charge of logistics for the senior side.

For many years we had one of the leanest backroom teams in the game, but there comes a time when we need to expand to remain competitive in the ever-changing modern game.

Kevin Sinfield

Former Rhinos and Yorkshire Carnegie rugby union conditioner Chris Black – currently part of the England set-up – is rejoining the club as head of physical performance.

Alex Morrell will move from Carnegie to join Rhinos as head of physiotherapy, working alongside Gareth Robinson.

He takes over from Andy Barker who left the club last month to work for the Football Association.

A head of player and coach development will be appointed to oversee areas including a new coach education department led by Barry Eaton.

Barry Eaton.

Barry Eaton.

The former Hunslet coach and Rhinos assistant-boss, who left the club when Brian McDermott was sacked in July, will focus on developing community coaching in Leeds and the club’s own young coaches.

There will also be a junior player pathway department focusing on developing and attracting new talent to the sport.

Rhinos legend Rob Burrow will continue as under-19s coach.

Leeds’ women’s team, previously run by the Rhinos Foundation, will become part of the club’s rugby department under a full-time manager, Leon Crick.

Alex Morrell.

Alex Morrell.

The changes mark “the start of a new era and direction at Leeds Rhinos”, according to Sinfield.

He said: “Leeds Rhinos is a huge organisation and the first-team squad and their performances are firmly at the top of that pyramid.

“When I returned to the club we spoke about reviewing our entire operation at the end of the season and that is something that has taken time and a great deal of consideration to make sure we have the right structure in place to take the club forward and make us stronger.

“For many years we had one of the leanest backroom teams in the game, but there comes a time when we need to expand to remain competitive in the ever-changing modern game.”

Sinfield added: “I would like to thank the board of directors for taking on board my recommendations and I am sure this structure will give us the competitive edge we need to challenge for honours again.”

Chief executive Gary Hetherington thanked Sinfield for his “painstaking work” on the new structure.

“He has reviewed our entire operation and identified areas where we need to strengthen and add additional resource,” Hetherington said.

“We have been a highly successful club for a number of years and much of that has been down to the outstanding dedication and commitment of our backroom team.

“Our challenge now is to build on that work and allow everyone to fulfil their potential.”