Australian reports identify five coaching candidates Leeds Rhinos’ Gary Hetherington is interested in

Last weekend Gary Hetherington headed down under with one goal: to find the man to take Leeds Rhinos forward.

The Rhinos haven’t finished in the top four since 2017 when they last won the Grand Final at the end of the golden generation.

Since then Leeds have struggled to compete with the top teams they themselves used to dominate. They did win the Challenge Cup in 2020 also finishing finishing fifth that season and in 2021. They also played in a Super League semi-final last season.

There was a belief that 2022 would represent Leeds’ return to the top as they signed Blake Austin, Aidan Sezer, James Bentley and David Fusitu’a but one win in their opening eight league and cup games has seen their season stall and Head Coach Richard Agar step down from his role.

Needing a new coach to turn their season around with relegation a real threat but also in need of a new vision to take them back to glory, Hetherington is looking for the right man to take the Rhinos back to the heights they once so regularly achieved.

But the question still remains, who is this individual and has Hetherington found them during his search down under.

There was talk that it could be Shane Flanagan with son Kyle also said to be a potential Leeds target to amend the Rhinos’ struggles in the halves. However, that now seems unlikely but five names have been identified down under by multiple sources including SEN.

The five names are all based in Sydney and many are current assistant coaches and include John Morris (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Cameron Ciraldo (Penrith Panthers) and Ryan Carr (Parramatta Eels) as well as Paul McGregor and Jason Ryles.

This talk comes from SEN’s Michelle Bishop who said on SEN 1170 radio: “He’s [Gary Hetherington] got his eye on a few people in particular.

“He’s looking at John Morris – who of course is now the assistant with Souths, former Dragons coach Paul McGregor, Panthers assistant Cameron Ciraldo – his name always comes up, but I can’t see him making a shift overseas.

“If he (Ciraldo) is going to start his (head) coaching career, it’ll be in the NRL, he’s just waiting for his opportunity.

“Roosters assistant Jason Ryles is another one, and Ryan Carr is possibly the frontrunner from Parramatta.

“He (Carr) sort of flies under the radar, nothing is said (about him) but he’s doing a wonderful job.”

Bishop also ended speculation that it could be Shane Flanagan taking over at Leeds: “Of course, every time any kind of coaching job is mentioned Shane Flanagan is mentioned.

“But I honestly can’t see him packing up and heading overseas, he wants to coach in the NRL.”

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