Leeds Rhinos boss Rohan Smith gives his own verdict of sporting director appointment of Ian Blease

LEEDS RHINOS head coach Rohan Smith has revealed that he is “fully supportive” of the decision to appoint Ian Blease as the club’s new sporting director.

Much has been made this week of Blease’s new role at Headingley following a lengthy spell at Super League rivals Salford Red Devils.

There had been speculation surrounding the appointment that Salford boss Paul Rowley could eventually follow Blease to Headingley.

But, Smith is looking forward to working with Blease when the latter officially starts his role on Monday.

“I’m fully supportive of the appointment,” Smith said.

“I’ve come across Ian in my time as a coach, I was on the other side of some of the teams he was here with.

“I’ve also spent some time with him when he was a player agent when I was at Bradford. I don’t know much about him but there is a mutual respect there.

“We will look to get the ball rolling on Monday when he kicks off.”

Blease’s departure ended a 20-year association with Salford, where he has represented the Red Devils’ both on and off the pitch.

Hailing from Salford, Blease joined the club as a player from local side, Folly Lane ARL. He went on to make 272 appearances over a 12-year period, including three seasons as club captain.

Ian also won two Second Division titles (1990-91 & 1995-96) and was part of the team who won promotion to the newly founded Super League in 1996.

The back-row forward also reached two Lancashire Cup finals, where he scored a memorable try against Widnes in 1991. Since his playing days, Blease rejoined the club in 2016 as Director of Rugby.

During his tenure, the Red Devils have reached the Betfred Super League Grand Final in 2019 and the Challenge Cup Final in 2020.

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