Leeds Rhinos search for key appointment to role vacant since Kevin Sinfield's departure

Leeds Rhinos are looking to appoint a new sporting direction that will lead the club's on-field operations. The Super League club is currently in the process of identifying a candidate that will lead their rugby department, with an appointment expected shortly.

It is a role that has been vacant since the departure of Kevin Sinfield in 2021, who left the role to venture into the coaching world in rugby union. The club had drawn up a plan that would have seen former head coach Richard Agar move 'upstairs' and take on the position. However, he left the club after stepping down as head coach to return to the NRL.

Since then, the club has made some off-field appointments, with Matt Cook hired as General Manager in November 2022. But upon Sinfield's departure from the club, CEO Gary Hetherington was essentially given the responsibility of looking after both the on-field and off-field departments of the club. With Sinfield never replaced, that has remained the case in the years since. Now, he will essentially give up his responsibilities with the on-field department to focus on off-field matters.

But the Rhinos are now working on filling the position, albeit in a similar guise, moving forward. In a statement, the club has said the candidate "will oversee the Rugby League operation, providing leadership for the coaching and playing staff in line with the club’s strategy and vision, management of salary cap compliance, player and staff recruitment and retention, and the youth development and medical departments."

Hetherington said: “This decision will boost the Rhinos fortunes now and in the future. It’s a big job and we are looking for someone with extensive experience in sport to lead our plan to build a culture of excellence, innovation and learning to support performance and development and someone who can make a difference.

“This will be done as part of our strategic plan for the development of men’s and women’s Rugby League at the highest level achievable within our financial means in accordance with our mission and values. Clearly winning on the field is a key focus for this new role but, perhaps more importantly, doing so whilst developing an environment for sustainable long-term success that promotes the best local talent with the recruitment of world class players.”

Whether the appointment would have an impact on Rohan Smith's position at the club remains to be seen. The Leeds Rhinos head coach appears to be under increasing pressure amid fan discontent. Leeds are currently seventh in Super League, two points adrift of the play-offs.

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