6th July 2018, 10:03 | Leeds
Kevin Sinfield MBE has been unveiled as Leeds Rhinos first ever Director of Rugby with immediate effect and he will take charge of his first game this Sunday when the Rhinos travel to Castleford Tigers in the Betfred Super League.
Former Leeds player and assistant coach James Lowes has been named as the club’s new First Team Coach on a full time basis. Sinfield will also take on a number of roles previously performed by Chief Executive Gary Hetherington.
Sinfield is out of contract with the Rugby Football League at the end of the current season and will continue to have an involvement with the RFL’s England Performance Unit one day a week until the end of 2018.
Sinfield’s playing career at the Rhinos spanned a golden period in the club’s history from his debut in 1997 through to his final game at the Grand Final in 2015. He captained the club from 2003 and he won seven Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups, three World Club Challenges and three League Leaders Shields in his time in blue and amber.
His services to the game were recognised in 2014 when he was awarded a MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Commenting on his appointment Sinfield said, “I am delighted and honoured to be offered the chance to return to my club. To follow on from Brian McDermott is a huge challenge but one I am excited about.
"Brian will be remembered as the most successful coach the club has ever had and his record speaks for itself. I enjoyed playing under him and our task now, as a club, is to take the legacy he has helped to nurture and move it forward with a new generation of players.
SIR KEVIN SINFIELD!!!!!!!! New director of rugby at Leeds with Lowes as the new coach. Lets hope the reaction to this gets into the players for Sunday and the huge match at Castleford. I will be there and we badly need the win.— Jamie Morgan (@JamieMorgan1989) July 6, 2018
“I have enjoyed my time at the Rugby Football League and I would like to thank Brian Barwick and Ralph Rimmer for supporting my vision for the international team.
"I believe the national side are in a position to fulfil their potential under Wayne Bennett and I am happy to continue my work leading into the Autumn series against New Zealand to make sure there is a smooth transition to build on the successful work we have done over the last two years.
"The chance to re-join Leeds Rhinos was too good an opportunity to miss however in my new position I will continue to support the international game, as Leeds Rhinos have always done.
“We have a group of extremely talented players here at the Rhinos but we find ourselves in a hard position at present. However, I know there is a mental toughness within this group to show what they can do.
"We have four games remaining in the regular season and all the coaching staff will be doing everything possible to make sure we finish the season in the best possible fashion.
“I am looking forward to working with James Lowes again. Jimmy is an excellent coach and one of the most forward thinking coaches in the game and someone who knows this group of players well,” added Sinfield.
Rugby Football League Interim Chief Executive, Ralph Rimmer, said: “I would like to congratulate Kevin on his appointment as Director of Rugby at Leeds Rhinos.
“Kevin has been a fantastic addition to our team at the Rugby Football League and I am delighted he has agreed to continue with part of his role in leading the England Performance Unit.
“When Kevin joined the organisation in 2016, I knew he would be a superb addition to the team but even I did not envisage him making such a huge impact on our Performance Department.
"Since that point we have set England Performance Unit and introduced a philosophy and system that ensures every part of the international set up is in great shape as we build towards the 2021 World Cup.
“Kevin already has a fantastic team working with him at the Rugby Football League, including Jamie Peacock, Paul Wellens, Paul Sculthorpe and Paul Anderson, but I am working with him and we are assessing if he needs additional support to share some of his responsibilities if we are to achieve our objective of winning silverware at the Rugby League World Cup in 2021.”