Bradford Bulls’ Francis Cummins returns to Headingley tonight admitting he nearly abandoned thoughts of becoming a head coach after seeing Daryl Powell’s vitriolic treatment at Leeds Rhinos.
The 36-year-old, who spent his entire playing career with Leeds, is currently carving out a reputation as one of the brightest young coaches around after a promising start to life in the main job at Odsal.
Cummins hopes to inspire another win when Bradford tackle the reigning Super League champions this evening and nudge them further towards the top.
However, he revealed he did question his aspirations of being the main man after seeing former playing colleague Powell – head coach at Rhinos from 2001-03 – come under fierce criticism.
“I’ve always coached, right back to when I first went to Leeds as an apprentice player and I’d go in to the schools,” Cummins told the Yorkshire Post.
“It’s always been a natural progression, but there was one point when I thought I wouldn’t want to be a head coach.
“I saw some of the abuse Daryl Powell got and I just thought ‘that’s not for me’.
“It was rough on him, but more so his family and I just thought ‘why would I want to put my kids through all of that’?
“But obviously that was an extreme. Everyone has good and bad times and once I got a chance to earn my apprenticeship as a coach at Leeds I knew it was a great opportunity.”
Back in 2001, just months after retiring as a player, Powell was fast-tracked to head coach from head of youth development.
He made an instant impression and brought improvements without ever attaining the silverware Leeds fans demanded.
Australian Tony Smith took over at the end of 2003 and within 12 months ended the club’s 32-year wait for championship success.
Cummins retired at the end of 2005 and worked as an assistant under Smith and then Brian McClennan as Leeds added three more titles.
Many thought he would eventually become Leeds chief himself, but he left to become Bradford assistant in 2011 and is now in his first year in full charge.
“People see it (Leeds) as one of the biggest jobs in the game and you need experience for that,” said Cummins.
“They gave Daryl a go but that’s probably something they wouldn’t do again. I needed to experience some other situations and prove myself elsewhere. I’m enjoying doing that at Bradford.”