Former Super League star Matt Cook goes from World Cup role to huge Leeds Rhinos job

A CHANCE stab at a World Cup internship role has led to a full-time job with one of the biggest clubs in the game for Matt Cook.

The twice-capped England international, a World Club Challenge winner with Bradford Bulls at the beginning of his playing career and a Super League Grand Finalist with Castleford Tigers towards the end, has been appointed as Leeds Rhinos’ new general manager.

Cook, 36, will be responsible for all rugby-related matters and oversee the full rugby department under chief executive Gary Hetherington and head coach Rohan Smith.

“I am really excited to be joining the club, I can’t wait to get started,” said Cook, who also played for Hull KR, London Broncos and Widnes Vikings during his career.

“Having worked with the Rugby League World Cup for the last two years, working with teams and twelve national federations, I think that has put me in really good stead for my new position at the Rhinos and moving forward. 

“It is nice to be back involved at club level. I am very much looking forward to working in a team environment alongside a great coaching team.

“Having been a player has helped me to put myself into the players’ mindset and making sure that things are taken care of off the pitch, so they can focus on delivering on the training field every day and on the pitch each week.”

This was something he gained good experience in as part of the World Cup team.

Earlier this year, Cook explained to Rugby League World magazine how he started working for the tournament as he adjusted to playing part-time rugby at Widnes (the final year of his playing career in 2021).

“I was just searching around the Internet looking for jobs, thinking about what I might do next,” he said. 

“I think I alighted upon the RFL’s website, went to the careers section and saw that there were roles coming up for the World Cup, internship roles. 

“I applied for it, sent off my CV, got invited for an interview and was successful in the process.”

Cook then ended up looking after twelve different teams as part of his role as operations coordinator.

“Learning so much about the sport from an administrative perspective, it’s been a big eye-opener – exciting,” Cook added.

“I finally appreciate a lot of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes in the sport. Previously, from a player’s perspective, I don’t think we have really appreciated that, or have taken it for granted. 

“For players, or ex-players like me, to get that experience now, and to see how much hard work goes into it, it is very humbling to be a part of.”

Now the World Cup is over, Cook has a new job on his hands at Headingley in a role that will involve day-to-day logistics as well as recruitment and contracts.