Lions hero McGeechan replaces coach McGee

Sir Ian McGeechan takes charge of first-team affairs.
Sir Ian McGeechan takes charge of first-team affairs.
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Sir Ian McGeechan says Yorkshire Carnegie want a head coach who “understands the Premiership” after their search for a new leader was accelerated yesterday by the departure of Tommy McGee.

The former Leeds prop has left the club by mutual consent, though it is understood there have been some underlying disciplinary problems which hastened the severing of ties.

British and Irish Lions legend McGeechan is to take charge of team affairs for the remaining six games of the season, and will be assisted by forwards coach Dave Baldwin, academy chief Andy Rock and former Bradford Bulls head coach Francis Cummins – who has been working at the club on a temporary basis.

McGeechan becomes Carnegie’s third head coach in what has been a turbulent season, following the departures of Gary Mercer in November, and now McGee.

As the club’s executive president, McGeechan already has enough on his plate in delivering Carnegie’s integrated county-wide academy system and has no interest in taking the first-team reins full-time.

But with a stated aim of a top-two finish next season, he acknowledges that this next coaching appointment is huge.

“We want to have a real go for Premiership status next year and we want a head coach who understands the Premiership and also understands how to get there,” said McGeechan, who refused to confirm or deny that former Sale boss Bryan Redpath was in the frame.

“They need the experience of knowing what it’s like to work under that pressure and have a good rugby mind.

“The most important thing is getting the right person in.

“I’m there in the interim to make sure we keep pushing ourselves forward.

“I’ve agreed to step in so it gives us the right timescale to find the strongest person to take us forward.”

McGeechan has already admitted that with Carnegie in ninth in the table, 10 points adrift of the top four, the season is as good as over. But he says there is enough motivation in the club to go out fighting.

“It’s important we are as good as we can be on the field,” said McGeechan, who has made six changes to the team for tomorrow’s visit of Bedford. “It’s been a disappointing season for us, I’m keen now that what I can try and bring to the rugby side is to give the players a good focus, keep a clear direction and enjoy some rugby and some wins between now and the end of the season.

“If we do that we’ll be in good shape to move forward.”