Leeds Rhinos’ new head coach David Furner has arrived in the country ahead of his first campaign in charge of the club and, on his first day in the UK, revealed his intention of adding further players to his squad as he aims to revive the club’s fortunes.
Ahead of 2019, the Rhinos have announced the signings of Tongan pair Tui Lolohea and Konrad Hurrell, the latter believed to be on a marquee player deal, while youngster Callum McLelland has joined Leeds after returning to the sport following a year with Scotland rugby union. Front rower Dom Crosby has also signed a permanent deal with the club after making seven appearances for the West Yorkshiremen towards the end of the 2018 campaign.
However, with the Rhinos’ director of rugby Kevin Sinfield keen to help Furner rebuild the Headingley club so they can fight for the big prizes, further recruits are being sought. This off-season has seen Leeds linked with a multitude of players with the likes of Martin Taupau and Justin O’Neill being rumoured targets for the Rhinos while Shaun Fensom is thought to be on the club’s radar. Trent Merrin of Penrith is another and Furner confirmed the club’s interest in the Australian forward on his first day in the country. “There’s interest. And I think there’s interest on both sides. But there’s no contract been signed – though there’s obviously been talks,” he told the media. Furthermore, he revealed that the club are only looking for top quality players to add to the roster for 2019. “We’re looking at bringing in world-class players if we can. That’s our aim; probably two, to help our younger kids come through,” he explained.
The Rhinos had to go through The Qualifiers to maintain their Super League survival in 2018 after a Grand Final victory the previous year and they will be aiming to vastly improve in 2019. For Leeds, that quest will begin with a trip to Warrington on Saturday 2nd February – a match which was also both teams’ first outing in 2018. That match has been confirmed as being televised on the competition’s opening weekend, the previous two being Wigan’s trip to St Helens (Thursday) and the first Hull derby of the season at Craven Park (Friday).