New Leeds director of rugby Kevin Sinfield has admitted the chance to come back to the Rhinos was too good an opportunity to ignore, after being appointed as the club’s first-ever director of rugby in a momentous shake-up of the reigning champions’ senior management.
Sinfield has returned on a permanent deal to head up Leeds’ rugby operation following the sacking of Brian McDermott on Monday; former Rhinos player James Lowes will take charge as first-team coach, with both appointments in time for Sunday’s game with Castleford Tigers.
And despite previously saying he had no interest in a coaching career, Sinfield said the chance to return to Leeds was too good to resist.
“I don’t think you get many opportunities to join the biggest club in the game,” he said. “I’m delighted to be back; the role is everything I want it to be. It’s a dream job.”
Sinfield will continue in his role as the RFL’s rugby director, though he will scale down his responsibilities in that role to one day a week.
But despite the Rhinos’ recent woes – they are now in the bottom four ahead of Sunday’s trip to Cas – Sinfield is confident he and Lowes can inspire a turnaround in fortunes.
“I know the expectations here; I’ve lived and breathed it since I was 13 and I understand what it’s about, this place,” he said. “I’m confident we can turn things around.
“In my time here the support has been incredible. I hope that remains behind the team and they give me everything they gave me for my 19 years as a player. I’m sure the lads will turn things around very quickly.”
Sinfield returns as a permanent member of staff at Leeds, but interestingly, Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington has revealed that Lowes and the other coaching staff will be subject to a review for 2019 which Sinfield himself will be heavily involved with.
“There’s an element of risk involved, of course,” Hetherington said of the appointments. “There will be no changes to the staff for the rest of this year but an announcement will be made in due course as to what the make-up of the group is for 2019.”