Leeds Rhinos have confirmed that former player Damian Gibson will be joining the club’s coaching staff ahead of the new 2011 season working under Head of Youth Development Barrie McDermott as the club’s U20 coach.
Gibson played for Leeds in 1997 after joining from North Queensland Cowboys and finished that season as the club’s Player of the Season before successful spells in Super League with Halifax, Castleford and Salford. He made 194 appearances in total in Super League, scoring 50 tries.
As well as coaching the club’s U20 side, he will also have a role within the first team coaching team and work in the community with the Leeds Rugby Foundation. His coaching career has seen him working with the Service Area in Halifax as well as part of the Rhinos Under 18s for the past 18 months. He has also been Assistant Coach with the Welsh national team for the past two years, which has seen Wales qualify for next year’s Four Nations tournament for the first time in their history.
The Rhinos have also confirmed that former Head of Youth Conditioning Richard Hunwicks has been promoted to the full time staff in a newly created position of Assistant Conditioner working under Jason Davidson.
Commenting on the announcement Barrie McDermott said, “We are delighted to bring both Damian and Richard on board with the coaching staff on a permanent basis. Both men have done an outstanding job with our young players in recent years and deserve the opportunity develop their careers here at the club. They are proud to be part of the Rhinos set up and bring with them a passion and enthusiasm not just for the club but for the game in general.
“I played alongside Damian during his season and the club and it has been fascinating to watch him develop as a coach since retiring. We did consider more experienced coaches for this role however our young lads have really enjoyed working with him. He loves working with our hard working, determined and self motivated young players and they really responded well to his coaching. We have evolved the philosophy of our Academy structure and have a new outlook for how we want our players and staff to perform and the appointment of Damian and Richard very much fits into that,” added McDermott.
Looking ahead to his new role the 34 year old said, “I am really excited about the role here at the club. I enjoy working at the grassroots of the game, it is something I have experience of from my time at Halifax and I know the Leeds Rugby Foundation do a fantastic job.
“My role with the Under 20s is something I am particularly pleased about. I know a lot of the boys from last season when I was assistant to Chris Plume with the Under 18s and they have got fantastic potential. As a club, Leeds are always keen to promote young talent and that is important for these young players and something that gives them great motivation,” added Gibson.