Leeds Rhinos supremo Ian Blease stresses all options on table as new boss Brad Arthur flies in for Warrington Wolves clash

Leeds Rhinos sporting director Ian Blease has stressed the door is open for Brad Arthur to stay on at Headingley beyond the end of this season.

The Australian is due to arrive in time for Thursday's away date with Warrington Wolves after agreeing to take over as head coach for the rest of 2024.

Assistant coaches Chev Walker and Scott Grix will lead the team at the Halliwell Jones Stadium before Arthur takes the reins for the final 10 games of the regular campaign.

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The former Parramatta Eels boss has been heavily linked with prospective new NRL franchise Perth Bears but Blease has not ruled out the 50-year-old taking the Leeds job permanently.

"The long-term objective of securing the coach is still ongoing," said Blease, who has headed the search since his arrival from Salford Red Devils in mid-June.

"Brad has put his hand up and said he can come for a short period but could be available for long term if necessary.

"All options are open at this moment. There is the potential he could take charge next year but we are still having other conversations with other coaches.

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"There are a number of hoops to jump through and processes to go through. I'm well on the track with doing that but that will stay within the club."

Ian Blease has headed the search for a new head coach. (Photo: James Hardisty)Ian Blease has headed the search for a new head coach. (Photo: James Hardisty)
Ian Blease has headed the search for a new head coach. (Photo: James Hardisty)

Paul Rowley has been viewed as a leading contender since Rohan Smith’s departure but he is committed to seeing out the season with Salford.

Blease would not be drawn on whether his former coach at the Red Devils remained on his shortlist.

"Paul's under contract," said Blease.

"It wouldn't be right for me to say something if a coach is under contract so I wouldn't comment on that. I can't say that."

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New Rhinos head coach Brad Arthur will be in attendance at Warrington on Thursday. (Photo: Matt King/Getty Images)New Rhinos head coach Brad Arthur will be in attendance at Warrington on Thursday. (Photo: Matt King/Getty Images)
New Rhinos head coach Brad Arthur will be in attendance at Warrington on Thursday. (Photo: Matt King/Getty Images)

New interim boss Arthur was available following his departure from Parramatta in May.

The Sydney native spent 10 years with the Eels, a tenure that featured an NRL Grand Final appearance in 2022.

"When you speak to him, he's got a presence about him," said Blease.

"I've done my due diligence in the background in terms of his philosophy, and his man-management style is second to none.

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Paul Rowley continues to be linked with Leeds. (Photo: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com)Paul Rowley continues to be linked with Leeds. (Photo: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com)
Paul Rowley continues to be linked with Leeds. (Photo: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com)

"He's been in the NRL for a long time and the first thing I thought was that he commanded my respect. Sometimes people have that aura around them and he's definitely got that.

"He's a genuinely honest guy and there are no grey areas."

When asked what would need to happen for Arthur to turn the deal with the Rhinos into a permanent arrangement, Blease added: "Nothing needs to happen for him. He just needs to come in and do his job.

"He is desperate to get over here and is on the flight already. He will have a look at the club, hopefully look at the coaches and improve the performances on the pitch.

"We have been inconsistent all year and everyone has admitted that. We want an improvement on the pitch and that's what we are aiming for. We are still targeting the play-offs. That’s why this has happened now."

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Leeds are two points adrift of the top six after keeping their season alive with back-to-back wins under Walker and Grix.

Chev Walker remains in charge this week. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)Chev Walker remains in charge this week. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)
Chev Walker remains in charge this week. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

Walker expects Arthur to have an influence at Warrington without having to say anything.

"I'm sure he'll have some kind of input with just his presence and being there," said Walker.

"The players are going to be playing for him the week after so that's all the input they need."

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Walker became an assistant coach at the end of 2022 after leading the club's academy.

The 41-year-old, who is in charge of the defence with Grix overseeing the attack, plans to make the most of his time with Arthur.

"It's a good opportunity for us all to learn," said Walker.

"Any opportunity I get as a young coach to spend time with an experienced coach is always going to be good for me.

"I'll be fully committed to supporting him and making him feel welcome at this club.

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"I watched his team play and they played some attractive stuff when they got to the Grand Final. They struggled with some results towards the end of his time there but they played some good stuff."

Harry Newman and Justin Sangare have both been ruled out of the trip to Warrington after picking up injuries in the nervy win over London Broncos.

Walker has called on Leeds to find the energy they showed in the emotional victory against Leigh Leopards following a flat performance last week.

"The Leigh experience was almost like a Grand Final," he said.

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"I've stressed to the players that it's not always going to be like that and you have to find a performance regardless of whether it's a big occasion or not.

"Our biggest challenge is performing to our best ability and not worrying about what happened last week."

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