Alternative Leeds Rhinos coaching options analysed as Rohan Smith replacement hunt widens

Louis Chapman Coombe

The talk surrounding the vacant Leeds Rhinos head coach position has been dominated by Brad Arthur and Paul Rowley, however reports have emerged the club could be tempted to widen their search.

Following the departure of Rohan Smith last month, former Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur and current Salford Red Devils boss Paul Rowley have been the heavy favourites for the post. Newly appointed sporting director Ian Blease  has already expressed his belief Rowley is a coach he is interested in, and Arthur’s experience in the NRL is also a huge pulling factor for Leeds.

Despite these two leading the charge, reports from Leeds Live have revealed the club are considering new applications for the post, with Blease using the international window to identify some other options for the position.

Whilst no names have been officially mentioned, Love Rugby League has compiled some possible options for coaches they could be interested in looking at.

Jason Demetriou

Jason Demetriou coaching South Sydney

The former South Sydney Rabbitohs boss Jason Demetriou is widely understood to have been interested in the position since Smith’s exit from Headingley. Demetriou made a brief cameo as Souths head coach in 2020, but took the reigns permanently in 2022 following Wayne Bennett’s exit from the club.

He guided them to the NRL Preliminary finals in his first season in charge, however missed out on the finals all together in 2023 after a terrible run of form saw them drop from second to ninth in the ladder. He was later sacked after just seven games this season.

Despite this poor run of form towards the end of his spell, Demetriou could be the man to bring some success back to Leeds and get them back to the top table once more.

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Lee Briers

Lee Briers Brisbane Broncos Alamy
Lee Briers coaching Herbie Farnworth in 2023-Alamy

Current Brisbane Broncos assistant coach Lee Briers hasn’t yet been linked with a move to Headingley, but it could be a great option for the club. Briers has really helped turn the Broncos around to become a proper force in the NRL with his style of attack, and this could work wonders for the Rhinos too. His style of play would really suit Brodie Croft and Lachie Miller in particular.

It could also be very beneficial for youngsters Alfie Edgell and Ned McCormack, considering the work he has put in with Reece Walsh.

After his retirement in 2013, Briers took up a role in the Warrington Wolves coaching staff, before joining Matt Peet’s staff at Wigan in 2022. He was quickly snapped up by Brisbane Broncos, and moved down under ahead of the 2023 NRL season.

Chev Walker

Chev Walker Leeds Rhinos
Current interim head coach Chev Walker

The man currently in the role, on an interim basis, could easily be given the reigns permanently. Chev Walker, alongside Scott Grix, guided Leeds to victory over Leigh prior to the international break; but the level of performance, and the improvement in them too, proved he could be the man Leeds need right now.

He also detailed the need for his players to build on the victory over Leigh, and is aware of the work needed to bring Leeds back into the top six.

Walker also knows Leeds inside and out. After coming through the ranks in the academy, he made his senior debut in 1999 and went onto make 183 appearances for the club before leaving at the end of the 2006 season. He later joined Richard Agar’s coaching staff in 2020, and has been there ever since.

Could this all blend in together to make him head coach?

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