Brett Delaney makes rugby league return with York

Brett Delaney

York have announced that four-time 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, Delaney has, since retiring from playing, coached Leeds’ academy and scholarship team. 

2021 also saw him assist Brian McDermott briefly when his former Rhinos head coach spent a short spell with Oldham in the Championship.

Delaney, 36, originally made the switch to the UK with Leeds in 2010. The forward featured for Parramatta Eels and Gold Coast Titans in the NRL. 

He made over 200 appearances for the Headingley club and helped them to four Super League titles in seven seasons.

“He will have a really positive impact on us”

On the appointment of a new assistant, Knights head coach James Ford said: “Brett Delaney has played at the highest level. In the conversations that we have had, it’s clear that he will have a massive impact on 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. 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.”

“I truly believe that we will reach Super League” – Brett Delaney

Discussing how the appointment came to be, Delaney explained: “Last year I got in contact with Jon through Chris Gibson. He introduced us. 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. 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 (James Ford).

“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!”

Brett Delaney on new challenge

After an eight-year spell with Leeds, Delaney retired shortly after signing for Featherstone 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 and I’d like to think I can give some of them years back and I’ve really enjoyed that transition.”

“I’m pumped to help Fordy”

He continued: “I’m not going to tell a half-back how to throw the ball around in attack. But I made a career out of defence and being a defensive player. With that comes structure, there’s wrestle, there are all sorts of things that come with a defensive system. I believe I can bring that and help support Fordy to change the mentality.

“I’m pumped to help Fordy. I’ve only been working with him for a couple of weeks but I’ve heard nothing but good things about him as a coach. I asked about Fordy as a coach and I played with Clarky (Chris Clarkson) and Cuthbo (Adam Cuthbertson) and Danny McGuire, who I’m quite close to, as well as Rob (Burrow), who both know Fordy as well.

“Everyone spoke so highly about him. He’s a Super League coach in the making. I can tell, from just a week of training, everything has run so smoothly and is so well organised. It’s run like a Super League club – and I truly believe that this club will reach Super League in the future. I wouldn’t be here otherwise – I’m a winner, I want to win things. I haven’t come here just to be an assistant and be happy to stay in the Championship.

“I’ve come here to win and to be in Super League.”

Delaney’s appointment comes as Jack Howieson departs the club to take up a role with Sheffield Hawks.

Ford signs new contract

York recently announced that head coach Ford had signed a new three-year deal with the club, securing his future until at least the end of the 2024 season.

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