ROOKIE COACH Rob Burrow is determined to bring a “winning culture” back to Leeds Rhinos’ academy – and ensure today’s young players enjoy the same experiences he did two decades ago.
Burrow, who retired as a player after celebrating his eighth Grand Final win last October, is – along with Danny McGuire – one of the most successful academy products in Leeds’ history.
Now in charge of Rhinos’ under-19s, he has seen the youngsters win six of their seven games so far this year, including a 28-14 victory over Wakefield Trinity last weekend.
“Obviously my aim is to develop players and continue the production line at Leeds Rhinos,” the former scrum-half said of his new role.
“But I want to develop players in a winning culture and a winning mentality. I know that helped me and Danny, Kev [Sinfield], Bails [Ryan Bailey}, Chev [Walker] when we were coming up.
“We were winning and we knew what was expected and how Leeds do it. I am trying to strip it back and introduce the same ethos we had under [former Wigan and New Zealand star and ex-Rhinos coach] Dean Bell.
“These lads don’t know who Dean Bell is, but for me to come through under somebody like that was invaluable. I am really passionate about wanting them to experience some of the experiences I was lucky enough to have and I am really keen to help them hopefully be part of something similar to what we were.”
Burrow may no longer be in the weekly spotlight, but he added: “It is quite a high pressure job in a way. There’s expectations and I don’t want to let the lads down.
“I am seeing a really different side of rugby. I am getting a different insight to when I played – I have to look at every position and know what I want from my wingers, what I want from my props, rather than just getting your own job right.”
Rhinos have high hopes for their current generation of academy players.
Pressed on who has impressed him so far, Burrow stressed he has been pleased with the team across the board, but did offer some names for fans to watch out for.
He said: “Tom Holroyd, the prop, is a big lad, but he can move. He is very agile and I’ve also been impressed with the hooker, Corey Johnson.
“Louis McConnell, a loose-forward, has been very good. He knows when to run and when to pass, he does the tough stuff and he has got good skill as well.
“Muizz Mustapha is someone who trains and plays really hard. He is exciting and the centre, Jack Broadbent, has done well.
“He is a real athlete. At the older end there’s Spencer Darley and Harvey Whiteley, who is out with a broken leg at the moment, and Owen Trout, who is going very well. They are all good lads as well as good players.”
Rhinos academy visit Huddersfield on Thursday and take on Warrington Wolves at their regular home ground, Stanningley, a week later.