Surprise Leeds Rhinos revelation as Brad Arthur appointment confirmed but coach search continues

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Staying on beyond this season remains an option for incoming Leeds Rhinos coach Brad Arthur.

The 50-year-old Australian’s appointment was confirmed this morning (Thursday). He is en-route to England and set to attend tomorrow’s game at Warrington Wolves after signing a contract until the end of the current campaign.

Rhinos’ sporting director Ian Blease confirmed the search for a long-term successor to Rohan Smith - who stepped down last month - is continuing and Arthur remains in the frame. “The long-term objective of securing the head-coach is still on-going, I am still working on that,” Blease stated.

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“Brad has put his hand up to say ‘I will come for a short, interim period, but [am] also available for a longer period if necessary’, which is a good arrangement for us as a club and for me to take a bit more time and do a bit more work behind the scenes on our long-term vision.”

Leeds Rhinos sporting director Ian Blease. Picture by James Hardisty.Leeds Rhinos sporting director Ian Blease. Picture by James Hardisty.
Leeds Rhinos sporting director Ian Blease. Picture by James Hardisty.

Arthur has been linked with the new Perth club which is set to join the NRL in 2026, but Blease confirmed Rhinos are “still talking” about him extending his stay at Leeds. “That is still an option,” he added. “Obviously there’s rumours about him and he has admitted to me he is still an NRL coach, he rates himself as an NRL coach and that’s good for him. There will be options for him, I guess, in the future.

“All options are open at this moment. We are still having conversations with other coaches and there are a number of hoops to jump through and processes to go through. I am well on the track with doing that.”

With 11 games remaining in the regular season, clubs are already putting plans into place for next year, but Blease insisted there is “no set time scale” for appointing a permanent coach. Whether he remains at the club or not, Arthur could have some input on signings for 2025.

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Blease has already had conversations with Arthur about players “wanting to come and join him” but warned: “We’ve got a tight salary cap next year. I need to look at that properly, but I am sure there will be some advice.”

Assistant-coaches Chev Walker - pictured - and Scott Grix will coach Leeds Rhinos in Thursday's game at Warrington Wolves. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.Assistant-coaches Chev Walker - pictured - and Scott Grix will coach Leeds Rhinos in Thursday's game at Warrington Wolves. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Assistant-coaches Chev Walker - pictured - and Scott Grix will coach Leeds Rhinos in Thursday's game at Warrington Wolves. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Arthur spent 10 years as coach of NRL side Parramatta Eels, masterminding a run to the 2022 Grand Final, before being sacked in May. Blease described his appointment as “exciting news”.

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Brad Arthur's first words as Leeds Rhinos explain coach's appointment

He said: “The deal came through pretty quickly, late last night. He is on a flight now and will hopefully be here for the Warrington game. [Assistant-coaches] Chev Walker and Scott Grix will control that game, but he will be there in a watching capacity. He has great experience, is well respected in the NRL and I think he can bring a lot to this club for the remainder of this year.”

He vowed: “I think as a club we can learn a lot off Brad. He has come in with vast experience. Chev and Scott are on their coaching journey so he should be able to assist them; they will embrace that. I think people are sometimes a tad scared of change; I quite like it and I like to bring in the right people at the right club. I think Brad is going to be that person for the temporary.”

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New Leeds Rhinos coach Brad Arthur could be at Thursday's game away to Warrington Wolves. Picture by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images.New Leeds Rhinos coach Brad Arthur could be at Thursday's game away to Warrington Wolves. Picture by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images.
New Leeds Rhinos coach Brad Arthur could be at Thursday's game away to Warrington Wolves. Picture by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images.

Of Arthur’s qualities, Blease noted: “He has got a presence about him and I’ve done my due diligence and background in terms of his philosophy and management style, which is second to none. He is all round a great coach and he’ll bring a lot of that skill set into the Rhinos camp. He will have a look at the club, hopefully work with the coaches and improve performances on the pitch.”

Bringing in such an experienced operator from overseas shows Rhinos haven’t given up on this season, according to the sporting director. They are seventh in the table, two points outside the play-offs and he conceded: “There is a bit of upheaval here at the moment, it’s not nice for everybody and I get that, but we’ve got to do what’s right for this club.

“There’s a lot to play for and we’ve seen it happen in the past with Leeds teams, that they can get there [the Grand Final] at the end of the year. I am not saying they can this time, that’s up to Brad and the rest of the team now.”

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