Leeds Rhinos recruitment update as Ian Blease lays out Super League vision

Aaron Bower
Ian Blease Leeds Rhinos Alamy

Ian Blease is the new sporting director of Leeds Rhinos

New Leeds Rhinos sporting director Ian Blease has admitted he envisages improvements being made to Leeds Rhinos’ squad – but says he is unsure whether they will be able to do any business in the immediate term until he begins work at the club.

Blease has been appointed to the newly-created position which will oversee all of Leeds‘ on-field activity, headlined by the evolution of the men’s first-team squad at Headingley.

The 59-year-old does not officially begin work until next Monday, but says he is already well underway with piecing together his vision for recruitment and retention in the short, medium and long-term. “That’s something I’ll look at,” he said. “I’ve not had those intimate conversations yet because I wasn’t an employee until the last few days so that’s something I’ll get into now.”

When asked about the squad head coach Rohan Smith is currently working with, Blease said: “To be fair, he’s had a few injuries this year without making excuses for anybody. I’m not sure how many times he’s had a full squad to pick from this year.

“There will be a few improvements made, no doubt. I never stop. I was just doing a bit (of business) this morning actually.

“There are some key players out there that would be nice to have a look at, definitely. Whether that’s the right timing for them, I don’t know yet.

RELATED: Ian Blease discusses Rohan Smith position at Leeds Rhinos and Paul Rowley links

“I haven’t gone into it fully yet because it wouldn’t have been right for me to do that – exiting Salford and then coming here.”

And when asked if Leeds are likely to do any business in the immediate term, Blease remained coy. “I don’t know the details yet,” he said. “I told Gary (Hetherington) last week not to share any details with me because we were still competitors.

“He appreciated that. That’s the way I am. I didn’t want to know anything until I came in.”

The move to Leeds represents a completely different approach to budgets and transfers than what Blease was perhaps used to at Salford, on a much tighter budget.

And he admitted: “It’ll be a challenge, there’s a bit of apprehension there because I’ve been used to ‘what can I get offered for a deal’, so that’s a change in mindset. But I’ve managed significant budgets in my business career and I’m okay with that but I’m more focussed on getting the right people at this club.”

LRL EXCLUSIVE: Salford Red Devils offer Paul Rowley new deal with possible future role change