Leeds Rhinos: Director of rugby Kevin Sinfield is pressure-free and confident he’ll be given time to turn the tide

New Leeds Rhinos head coach, David Furner, with director of rugby, Kevin Sinfield, at Emerald Headingley. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
New Leeds Rhinos head coach, David Furner, with director of rugby, Kevin Sinfield, at Emerald Headingley. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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LEEDS RHINOS director of rugby Kevin Sinfield insists he does not feel under any pressure to bring immediate glory back to the club in 2019.

The club’s greatest-ever captain, having led them to seven Super League titles, returned in the new role in July after head coach Brian McDermott was sacked.

With the defending champions having slumped into the bottom-four, he was given the remit of avoiding relegation – which he did – and then rebuilding the football side of the Rhinos as their first-ever director of rugby.

Sinfield duly appointed Dave Furner as the new head coach for 2019, with the Australian landing in the UK on Tuesday to take up his position, and made a number of significant backroom changes. With a massive £40m redevelopment of Emerald Headingley nearing completion, and being given the green light to recruit two ‘marquee’ signings, Sinfield could feel under pressure to reap instant dividends next term. But he maintained: “I don’t’ feel any pressure, if I’m honest.

“The board have been fantastic, (CEO) Gary (Hetherington) has been superb, the support I’ve had since I came back three four months ago has been immense.

“People are well aware of where we’re at and that it may take a little bit of time but I think the place will afford us that to ensure we get it right.

“There does need to be some patience but I believe in everything we’ve done so far, certainly this last six weeks.

“I 100 per cent believe in Dave and the staff we have and I believe in our playing squad as well. I know they’ve had a rough time this last 12 months but there’s some real talent in that squad and we’ve added some quality in there.

“I understand why people may look at it and think we have to do something next year but I don’t feel that at all. We need to be better.

“I understand we’re in a great stadium as well and of course we want to fill it and of course we want to play some fantastic rugby but we have to work hard first and get the little things right to be able to do that.”

Sinfield, of course, led Leeds to their maiden Grand Final triumph in 2004, the start of their Golden Generation’s amazing run of success and a first league title in 32 years.

Kangaroos second-row Furner was a team-mate back then and other playing colleagues from that famous Old Trafford night – Rob Burrow and Chev Walker – are also now on the Headingley coaching staff.

Sinfield was asked if he was attempting to recreate the ‘spirit’ of 2004.

“No, not at all,” he said.

“I think 2004 was an important year for us all. But if we think that the spirit of 2004 would be enough today, we’re probably kidding ourselves.

“We need to evolve. We need to be better. That environment was great back then.

“We need to create an environment that’s great now. Great now and in 2019 and beyond.

“It’s comforting having some blokes you can trust alongside you who you know will give absolutely everything for the club.

“Hence why Dave is here. But I feel with the staff we now have in place everybody is 100 percent committed to giving their all and not stopping until this club is back where it needs to be and even then it doesn’t stop any way does it?

“You keep going and keep wanting more. I’m really looking forward to the next couple of years.

“Dave will have the support of all of us and let’s see what happens.”