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Ex-Leeds Rhinos utility Brett Delaney takes surprise Championship coaching role

Leeds Rhinos injuries

York City Knights have announced that four-time Betfred Super League winner Brett Delaney has joined the club as Assistant Coach.

While the move to the Knights marks his first official move into first-team coaching, 36-year old Delaney has, since retiring from playing, coached Leeds Rhinos’ Academy and Scholarship team. 2021 also saw him assist Brian McDermott briefly when his former Rhinos Head Coach spent a short spell with Oldham RLFC.

As a player, Delaney was a key part of a highly successful Leeds team. After joining the club ahead of the 2010 campaign, the New South Wales native made over 200 appearances for the Headingley club and helped them to four Super League titles in seven seasons.

Delaney’s tough-tackling and never-say-die attitude also saw him help Leeds to two Challenge Cup titles and is one of the most decorated players in the Super League era.

On the appointment of a new assistant, Knights Head Coach James Ford pointed towards the toughness of Delaney and also shared where the Australian will be focussing his attention over the next year.

“Brett has played at the highest level and in the conversations that we have had, it’s clear that he will have a massive impact in the defensive side of our preparations.

“We’ve got some similar philosophies on that and, while I will oversee it, he will lead on the defence side of things. That will probably help me focus on other areas of our performance and preparation.

“The time we have spent together as a coaching staff so far has been really good and he will only get better as our relationship develops and his confidence grows around the club and team.

“I think he will have a really positive impact on us.”

Discussing how the appointment came to be, Delaney explained: “Last year I got in contact with Jon through Chris Gibson. He introduced us and I came to the stadium to meet with Jon, to have a chat about rugby and he showed me around the new stadium.

“It’s an unbelievable place for a Championship side. To have a facility like this is outstanding. The passion he spoke about the club and where we want to head is brilliant and I truly believe that we will reach Super League.

“I had a chat with Jon and his aspirations of Super League are clear. We caught up at the stadium, had a chat and put me in contact with Fordy.

“We went for a coffee, we had a chat to see if we got on and to share the ideas I had as to what I could bring as an Assistant. Obviously, that’s worked!”

After an eight-year spell with Leeds, Delaney retired shortly after signing for Featherstone Rovers in 2019. That retirement, as he shares, eventually saw him return to Leeds in a coaching role.

“I obviously retired after having a great career. I won plenty of trophies and, while that doesn’t have anything to do with coaching, it does come with a winning mentality. Coaching-wise, I went through the scholarship and academy season at Leeds. I can’t thank Mark Butterill enough, he helped me a lot as coaching is totally different to playing.

“When I retired, I fell out of love with rugby league a bit but I got that buzz back when I got involved with the scholarship there. I worked with Chev (Walker) in the Academy and the reserves with Rob (Burrow) until it got cancelled. I fell back in love with it there and realised that I have something to give as a coach. I had seventeen years playing, I like to think I can give some of them years back and I’ve really enjoyed that transition.”

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