Brian McDermott to coach USA Hawks

Leeds coach Brian McDermott has been named as the new coach of the USA national team, the Hawks, the USARL have confirmed.

The Rhinos have been developing close links with the USA in recent years, with the first team visiting Florida as part of their preseason preparations for the 2015 Super League campaign.

While they were there, they played a game against the USA Pioneers, a team of domestically based American players.

McDermott is relishing the challenge of not only helping the national side reach the next World Cup, but also helping more domestic American talent develop.

 “I am honored to be appointed head coach of the USA Hawks,” he said.

“We saw in 2013, the impact the USA team can have on the international Rugby League game and that is something that excites me as a passionate Rugby League fan and coach,

“The main task is to qualify for the 2017 World Cup. But along that journey I hope to have an influence over the development of players coming through and have an input into the broader coaching network in the USA.

“Having had first hand experience of working with the players in the States, I have been impressed with their attitude, athleticism and commitment to rugby league and that gives us strong foundations to build on.

“I am looking forward to working with Spinner Howland, Peter Illfield and Sean Rutgerson and for my own personal development; I am looking forward to the challenge of working with a new group of players during the Rhinos off season.”

USARL chairman Peter Illfield is delighted that such a respected coach will be in charge of the Hawks.

“Brian has a ready-made relationship with the USA bringing his Leeds Rhinos to coaching camps and matches in Jacksonville, Florida, the most recent in January this year,” he said.

“His record speaks for itself with his experience and professionalism providing our American players with valued knowledge of the game.”

The USARL have also confirmed that McDermott’s assistant will be current Wests Tigers srength and conditioning coach Sean Rutgerson, a former Super League and NRL player who represented South Africa at the 2000 World Cup.

Rutgerson has previous experience in the States, too, having played and coach at Jacksonville Axemen.

“I’m really excited to be part of the Hawks and the new set-up going on with Rugby League in the USA,” said Rutgerson.

“I am stoked to be selected as assistant coach and strength and conditioning coach.

“My season with the Axemen in 2009 gave me great insight into the level of athlete produced in the states, and I know the potential rugby league has as it grows in popularity.

“I can’t wait to get back over there and start training.”

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