Leeds Rhinos have agreed a three year contract with South Sydney Rabbitohs assistant coach David Furner to return to Headingley as the club’s new head coach from next season.
Furner played the final two years of his career at the Rhinos in 2003 and 2004, playing his final game at Old Trafford as he helped Leeds to their first Championship title in 32 years with their Super League Grand Final victory over Bradford Bulls.
Furner has been with South Sydney since 2017, initially working with Michael Maguire before assisting Anthony Seibold this season.
He was previously the head coach of the Canberra Raiders for five seasons, and also served as an assistant at the Raiders for three years, and at the North Queensland Cowboys for three seasons, including their Premiership year in 2015. He was also the assistant coach of Australia for six years under Tim Sheens.
Last season he was also assistant coach with Tonga as they reached the World Cup semi final, narrowly missing out to England. He will team up again with Tongan halfback Tui Lolohea at the Rhinos.
Furner played over 300 first grade games across Australia and the UK, winning Premierships in both hemispheres, as well as representing New South Wales in State of Origin and Australia at an international level.
At Headingley he will work under his former team-mate Kevin Sinfield, who remains as Director of Rugby, and he will be assisted by first-team coach James Lowes with support from the current backroom team.
Commenting on the appointment, Sinfield said, “We are delighted to have secured Dave’s services at the Rhinos, especially given his outstanding coaching record. He is someone who has always remained a friend of the club since he left here and it fantastic to have him back on board for next season. As well as focusing on our current position, there is 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.”
Dave Furner added, “First of all, it is fantastic to be heading back to a club where I have so many fantastic memories from my playing days. I would like to say thank you to the Board of Directors, Gary Hetherington and Kevin Sinfield for offering me this opportunity and I am 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 have had two wonderful seasons at the Rabbitohs and this was not a decision that I took lightly. Returning to England is something my family and I are excited about come the end of the season. In the meantime, I am looking to finishing my time at South Sydney in the best possible fashion and wish Kevin and the team good luck for the remainder of their campaign starting on Sunday at Widnes.”
Rabbitohs General Manager of Football, Shane Richardson, said: “I would like to thank David for his service to our club over the past two seasons. He has played a leading role in returning our team to the top four.
“He goes on to a great club in Leeds and I’m sure he will be a success as their head coach.
“He goes with our blessing and we wish David, his wife Kellie and his family the best of luck in the UK.”