EIGHT-TIME GRAND Final winner Rob Burrow says he jumped at the chance to become part of Leeds Rhinos’ first-team coaching set-up, but has ruled out a playing comeback.
Burrow hung up his boots after last year’s Betfred Super League title triumph and is now Rhinos’ academy boss.
He had no involvement with the senior team under previous coach Brian McDermott, but has been brought into the fold by new director of rugby Kevin Sinfield.
“When Kev came in he rang me that night and I jumped at the opportunity,” Burrow revealed.
“I still want to continue my role with the academy, that’s really important to me, but absolutely I want to be part of the first team.
“It’s a club I love and seeing them not doing great this year, I want to be back involved.”
It is great being around the first team and in their meetings and learning what I can take to the academy.Rob Burrow
Burrow said he won’t change his mind on retiring as a player and admitted he is at the very start of his coaching career.
Asked if he has long-term ambitions to be a head coach, he said: “It’s too early.
“I suppose I probably do, but not in the immediate future.
“An opportunity like this, with Kev, I can’t turn it down.
“It is great being around the first team and in their meetings and learning what I can take to the academy.”
Rhinos under-19s, coached by Burrow, are third in their competition, behind Wigan Warriors and St Helens, having lost only three times in 18 games this season.
They thrashed City of Hull 68-8 last Saturday and visit Bradford Bulls tonight (7pm).
“So far, so good,” Burrow said. “The core of the team are first years so it will be a process of maybe a couple of years, but they are really buying into what we’re giving them and the results are showing that.
“They are a really good bunch of lads.
“They’ve not been perfect every week, but we’ve done enough to be doing well in the league and the lads are really improving every week.”
One of Burrow’s priorities is to provide a path from the academy to the club’s Super League side.
“There’s getting to be a big connection now,” Burrow said.
“We try to make it as near to first team as possible so the first years come in and they get everything – they come from playing amateur to getting video, preview, review, weights, diets.
“It’s a lot of take in and they’ve picked it up really well.
“I couldn’t ask for any more, I’m really happy with where they are and hopefully we go on and these lads can enjoy some silverware.”
Explaining Burrow’s addition to the first team backroom staff, Sinfield said: “Rob’s involved, first and foremost, because I trust him. He is one of the most loyal blokes I’ve spent time with. He’s a great coach, very knowledgeable and the fact he’s our under-19s coach as well, it has to work that way.
“I need to be across our academy and our scholarship and I need to know who’s in our system.
“There has to be some succession planning.”