Lowes is proving a more than useful helping hand

JAMES LOWES is back at Leeds Rhinos 'helping out' his old club.

The former Man of Steel spent two-and-a-half years at Headingley as Brian McDermott’s assistant, winning the 2011 and 2012 Grand Finals, before taking on the Yorkshire Carnegie rugby union head coach role in June, 2013.

He left there after a relatively successful 12 months to become Bradford Bulls coach in June, 2014 – the club where he enjoyed so much glory as a player – but quit the Championship outfit in April.

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Lowes, 46, has rejoined Carnegie as one of Bryan Redpath’s assistants for the 2016-17 Championship campaign but, in the meantime, has been coaching at Rhinos.

Chief executive Gay Hetherington said: “He is helping out and, to be honest, James has always kept his hand in here.

“He’s pretty close to Brian and has the sort of attitude where he is full-on.

“James wants to be involved, wants to be active all the time, whether in rugby league or union, and it’s no surprise really he’s offered to do some sessions.

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“He doesn’t officially start at Carnegie until July 1 and, in the early weeks of their pre-season, it is a lot of conditioning work so James is doing bits for the Rhinos as well.”

Former Great Britain hooker Lowes is known for his ability in improving defensive structures so it is perhaps no surprise that Leeds have conceded just one try in their last two games – an 8-0 win against Salford Red Devils and the 32-6 success at Wakefield Trinity.

The Rhinos remain bottom, level on points with both Huddersfield Giants and Salford Red Devils ahead of Sunday’s visit from Widnes Vikings, but that was the first time the struggling Super League champions have strung together two wins all season.

However, Hetherington insisted: “I think the big impact is that against Salford we got four players back and at Wakefield another two in Ryan Hall and Zak Hardaker.

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“At a stroke, the team started to look a lot different to what it had done in the last 10 matches or so.

“Hopefully, we’ll get another three back for Widnes – Carl Ablett, Brett Delaney and Tom Briscoe all could be ready.

“Our problems this season have stemmed primarily from the fact most of our best players have had long stretches out injured often at the same time.”