Carnegie’s protracted head coach search set to conclude

Carnegie's director of rugby 'Chris Gibson
Carnegie's director of rugby 'Chris Gibson
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Yorkshire Carnegie will name their new head coach this morning – with Gary Mercer understood to be the man to succeed James Lowes.

Mercer, who had two spells at Leeds Rhinos, also played rugby league for Castleford Tigers and Warrington Wolves.

The 48-year-old New Zealander left league in 2005 to start a coaching career with union side Glasgow Warriors.

He has been with the club for nine years, most recently as Under-20s assistant coach and defence coach.

His was one of the first names mentioned as a possible successor to Lowes.

Yorkshire – who officially changed their name from Leeds last month – have been without a head coach since Lowes left to take charge of Bradford Bulls on June 24.

Mercer will now have just two weeks to prepare the team for their opening Greene King IPA Championship game with Cornish Pirates.

Without confirming the name, Carnegie’s director of rugby Chris Gibson said of the new head coach’s attributes: “He’s got good experience and he fits in perfectly with our coaching structure.

“He is an all-rounder, and latterly worked on defence and skills.”

The appointment ends a nine-week search for the first head coach of the Yorkshire Carnegie era.

Gibson admitted that Lowes’s decision took them by surprise and that they didn’t have a plan B in place.

But he added that forwards coach Tommy McGee had done such a good job in over-seeing pre-season training that it diffused the sense of urgency.

“We have been very fortunate,” said Gibson.

“Tommy McGee has done a very good job through the summer. He is an established coach and the players know him.

“Whoever comes in has to embrace who we are and what we are.

“They have got to come in and work with the squad, the coaches and the staff that we have got.

“We are short in one or two areas and I’d like the new head coach to have input in that area.

“I’d say we’re short at No 9, in the back three and the back row.”

Mercer spent 15 years as a player in rugby league in England, and earned 21 caps for New Zealand. He coached at Castleford and Halifax before moving into union.