LEEDS RHINOS’ director of rugby Kevin Sinfield says former Australia assistant David Furner’s appointment as head coach in 2019 is a “massive indication” of the club’s new vision for the future.
The fallen champions have been searching for a new chief since Brian McDermott’s sacking in July but today announced the South Sydney Rabbitohs assistant will return to Emerald Headingley on a three-year deal.
Former Kangaroos back-row Furner spent two seasons as a player with Rhinos, his last game being the 2004 Grand Final success over Bradford Bulls when Leeds lifted their first league title in 32 years.
He played more than 300 first-grade games across Australia and the UK, featuring with Canberra Raiders and Wigan Warriors, winning championships in both hemispheres.
A popular, hardened and well-respected player, Furner also starred for New South Wales in State of Origin and the Kangaroos before moving into a coaching career that saw him lead Canberra for five seasons and assist at North Queensland Cowboys.
The 47-year-old will work under his former Leeds team-mate Sinfield and be assisted by first-team coach James Lowes – both in place since McDermott’s exit – with support from the current backroom team.
“We’re delighted to have secured Dave’s services especially given his outstanding coaching record,” said Sinfield, whose main priority is negotiating Leeds out of the Qualifiers with tomorrow’s crucial trip to Widnes Vikings looming.
“He’s someone who’s always remained a friend of the club since he left and it’s fantastic to have him back on board.
“As well as focusing on our current position, there’s a great deal of work going on behind the scenes to make sure we build for the future and the signing of Dave Furner is a massive indication of that vision.”
Furner, who also assisted Tonga in last year’s World Cup, said: “First of all, it is fantastic to be heading back to a club where I have so many fantastic memories from my playing days.
It is fantastic to be heading back to a club where I have so many fantastic memories from my playing days.David Furner
“I’d like to say thank you to the board of directors, Gary Hetherington and Kevin Sinfield for offering me this opportunity and I’m looking forward to helping the club progress in the future.
“I know that Kevin and the team are working hard to get through the Qualifiers at present and I have every confidence they will do that with the backing of the fantastic fans at the Rhinos.
“I’ve had two wonderful seasons at the Rabbitohs and this was not a decision I took lightly.”
Having lost at home to Hull KR last week, Leeds can ill-afford another defeat at Widnes, who are coached by another of Furner’s former Rhinos team-mates Francis Cummins.
However, their opponents are on a horrendous run and already seem doomed for relegation having lost their last 16 games including Qualifiers against London Broncos and Toulouse,
For Leeds. Dom Crosby, Jimmy Keinhorst, Cameron Smith and Mikolaj Oledzki come in but Carl Ablett and Adam Cuthbertsondrop out.