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Ian Blease confirms Leeds Rhinos interest in Paul Rowley

Paul Rowley Leeds Rhinos

The Leeds Rhinos held a press conference, in the aftermath of Rohan Smith’s departure from the club. Smith left the club by mutual consent yesterday, following an inconsistent run of form in the 2024 Super League season. 

Smith joined the club in 2022, leading them to a Grand Final that year. However, a poor 2023 followed by a disappointing start to the 2024 season has cost him his job with the Rhinos. The will now begin their search for a sixth permanent head coach since 2018.

The search will be led by new Sporting Director, Ian Blease, who only officially started his new role with the club on Monday, having joined from the Salford Red Devils. Blease has now opened up on whether Rowley is in the running for the top job at Leeds.

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Leeds Rhinos interested in Rowley

Ian Blease, new Leeds Rhinos sporting director, at Salford Red Devils stadium

Credit: Imago Images

Speaking in a club press conference, held jointly with Chief Executive, Gary Hetherington, Blease discussed the possibility of Rowley joining the Rhinos. Rowley and Blease have a longstanding relationship from Blease’s time at Salford and Rowley’s has been mentioned as a potential option for the Rhinos.

Whilst stressing the importance of confidentiality in the process, Blease appeared to confirm that Rowley was someone the Rhinos would be interested in bringing in. Blease stated:

“I think like I said, we’re big on confidentiality in this process. It’s early, it’s only just started, there’s no time scale on it. Talented coaches interest me, Paul will be one of them obviously. His name has been planted about by you guys for a while now.

“But nothing’s happened yet, we are concentrating on tomorrow, the old “take one game at a time”, which is what the boys are doing outside. And the coaches, staff, that are in the interim now, taking over, Chev [Walker] and [Simon] Grix, so that’ll be good for me to watch them, they’re talented.

“So I’ve got no preconceived ideas who it will be, I’ll do a thorough research on it all, and yes, applications are coming in as we speak, but I’ll make sure we do the job properly.”

Blease willing to be patient in search for new coach

Leeds Rhinos dejected

Credit: Imago Images

Following last weekend’s defeat against Hull FC, the pressure is on the Rhinos as they attempt to stay in touch with Super League’s top six. Defeat against Leigh Leopards on Friday night could see the Leopards close the gap on the Rhinos to just one point.

If results elsewhere go against Leeds, they could find themselves four points off the top six with the season moving into its closing stages. Blease recognised the need for an immediate improvement in performances. However he stated that he is willing to be patient in order to secure the right candidate for the job. Blease explained:

“Yeah, pretty patient but I’m aware of the needs on that pitch. The club will be judged off the back of the performance like we are now.

“We need to move up the table, and if that means we need to bring in coaching quickly or in the interim, I might look at that. But all I think is we’re open at the moment.”

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