NEW boss David Furner says he wants “good people” not just good players to join him in his Leeds Rhinos re-build job.
The Aussie starts his first full day in charge at Emerald Headingley having flown into the country yesterday.
Furner, who signed a three-year deal to replace sacked Brian McDermott, is getting a first-hand look at what he needs to do to start turning Rhinos around after they ended up in the Qualifiers again last term.
He said he hopes to add a couple of “world-class” signings before the season starts having already secured Tonga duo Konrad Hurrell and Tui Lolea.
Furner, 47, will work closely with director of rugby Kevin Sinfield as they look to finalise their playing rosta for 2019.
“I’ve been guided by Kev, Jimmy Lowes and Chev (Walker) on the current squad so I’ve definitely been doing my homework,” said the former Canberra Raiders coach, who won the 2004 Grand Final with Leeds in his final season before retiring.
It is exciting coming back here and getting this opportunity. It’s been five years since I’ve been a head coach and getting the chance to do it again at a club like Leeds – which has been so successful – is exciting.Leeds Rhinos’ head coach, Dave Furner
“We’re looking at bringing in world-class players if we can.
“That’s our aim. Probably two to help the kids come through here but it’s a philosophy of mine they have got to be good people as well, on and off the field, not just good players.”
Furner admitted he is in talks with Australia prop Trent Merrin, the Penrith Panthers and State of Origin star, while Sinfield said a second ‘marquee’ signing could be imminent.
Sinfield also added that some current players could yet leave in the off-season although he confirmed 37-year-old second-row Jamie Jones-Buchanan will play on in 2019 and start pre-season training on Monday.
Former Canberra Raiders boss Furner has been South Sydney assistant for the last two years having also been an assistant at North Queensland Cowboys when they won the 2015 NRL Grand Final.
He added: “It is exciting coming back here and getting this opportunity. It’s been five years since I’ve been a head coach and getting the chance to do it again at a club like Leeds – which has been so successful – is exciting.
“I’ve seen the academy side being involved in that Grand Final, narrowly losing against Wigan. They’ve always had juniors at Leeds. I’ve been involved in a club (Canberra) before in the NRL where I blooded a lot of juniors. I’m not scared to.
“If it’s part of the rebuild or best for the club I’ll make that decision. But certainly with the younger crop coming through we have some really good depth, really good senior players and a couple of new signings there with Tui Lolohea and Konrad Hurrell which is exciting.”
South Sydney and England props Tom and George Burgess have told Leeds fans they can expect a thrilling style of rugby under the new coach.
Furner said: “The twins and Sammy were involved in Souths and I think the way we attacked was exciting. I was in charge of the attack their last season and we ended up finishing first in ‘most points’.
“But you also have to look at what sort of squad you have got and the players.
“The twins have been playing some very good football that has allowed us to get on the front foot and off the back of that get your plays on and quick play the balls.
“But I’ve watched a lot of the Rhinos games from this year, having a look at the different players and there’s certainly going to be a little bit of similarity.”