How Leeds Rhinos Netball bucked the trend with appointment of Dan Ryan

Leeds Rhinos Netball have bucked the trend of the Superleague rivals they will join next year with the appointment of a man as head coach.

In tandem: Leeds Rhinos director of netball Anna Carter, right, with the head coach she has brought in for the 2021 Superleague season, Dan Ryan.
In tandem: Leeds Rhinos director of netball Anna Carter, right, with the head coach she has brought in for the 2021 Superleague season, Dan Ryan.

And not just that, Rhinos looked Down Under to find their figurehead.

Dan Ryan will coach the Rhinos in 2021.

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Ryan spent last summer coaching Northern Ireland in the INF Netball World Cup, a role he held since November 2018 and managed alongside his domestic league commitment as assistant coach with 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague champions, Manchester Thunder.

Leeds Rhinos netballers in training. (Picture: Jonathan Turner)

He is already contracted to the Rhinos and will begin the process of officially recruiting players for next season at the end of May.

“We were really keen to get a head coach in early, so that person wasn’t coming in when we were all set up and them then wanting to change things,” said Anna Carter, the Rhinos’ director of netball.

“Dan comes from the best netball league in the world in Australia. Other Superleague coaches from England wanted to bring in Superleague players; Dan wants to bring in players who have a world class mentality.

“Dan is quite forthright in his values and in the style of netball he wants to play.

“We’re very much alike in the players we want to work with and why.

“We want people coming into this team that have an essence of Yorkshire.

“We want them to share our values and bring something to the table.

“If possible, have Yorkshire at their heart, that when they put on that dress it means something.”

Rhinos will be starting their recruitment from scratch, meaning an exhaustive search is anticipated to attract 10 contracted players and five training partners.

“Because we haven’t had an Under-21s team for the last four years, we don’t have an academy to pick from,” explained Carter, who was formerly the Yorkshire Jets director of netball before they lost their franchise status in Superleague.

“We’ve had an Under-19s team that have played under the Rhinos name for the last couple of years but we started to lose those players once they reached 19, and they had to leave Yorkshire to continue their netball journey.

“With us having the Superleague team and an Under-21s team from next year, hopefully they won’t have to do that any more.

“Under-21s will be the key age for us.”

Like all sports, netball is currently in abeyance due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the Superleague season initially scheduled to conclude in July and the 2021 campaign – Rhinos’ maiden year – due to start in February.

Ryan, who was appointed back in August, said: “Leeds Rhinos have an incredible offer, providing athletes globally with the chance to be part of an established, professional and successful sporting organisation.

“This is a world-class training environment with first-class facilities including the many high-performance resources needed to achieve success on both a team and individual level, and I’m confident we can deliver a brilliant and sustainable athlete experience.

“This region is so passionate about netball and it’s just brilliant that elite netball will be back here and thriving once more. It’s going to be a very special journey for all of us as we work towards making our mark in 2021.”