Paul Rowley or Brad Arthur? Breaking down Leeds Rhinos candidates’ records, style and more

Aaron Bower
Paul Rowley and Brad Arthur

As the search for the next Leeds Rhinos coach kicks into gear, the race is widely considered to be between two men: Paul Rowley and Brad Arthur.

Both men have differing situations – one is under employment, the other isn’t – and bring different things to the table without question.

Whichever direction Leeds decide to go in, whether it’s Rowley, Arthur or indeed someone else, they will have a coach who will likely be significantly different to Rohan Smith. But in terms of the two favourites, here’s the breakdown of what each man has done throughout their careers, and what they will offer Leeds.

Track record

Rowley has been a successful head coach for over a decade but it’s only in recent years has he made his mark as a top Super League coach. He enjoyed success with Leigh Leopards in the Championship before being the man overseeing the start of Toronto Wolfpack’s rise to Super League.

But it’s at Salford where Rowley has enjoyed his biggest triumphs. This is his third season at the club, and having already guided them to finishes of sixth and seventh, Rowley looks set to potentially beat that again this year with the Red Devils punching above their weight in the eyes of many.

Arthur has been a head coach for a near-identical period of time, but has spent his entire coaching career with Parramatta Eels. He has enjoyed some success there; including three semi-finals and a Grand Final appearance between 2019 and 2022.

However, he left Parramatta languishing at the bottom of the competition this season.

Style and approach

This is arguably where there is a major contrast between the two candidates. Under Rowley, Salford have earned a reputation as one of the competition’s most entertaining teams to watch, which is backed up by many of the key metrics.

Salford score points aplenty and play with a style that would undoubtedly impress Leeds Rhinos fans if Rowley were able to replicate it at Headingley.

As for Arthur, this is a direct quote from our scout report published on the Australian last week: “Parra were the last remnants of the pre-Six Again era, still wedded to bashing down the front door through the forwards.” 

Whether that would remain an issue for the Leeds hierarchy who are seriously considering Arthur remains to be seen.

READ NEXT: Ranking every Leeds Rhinos coach in Super League era by win percentage after Rohan Smith exit


Rowley is seen as a coach who is able to get the best out of players, irrespective of their level or ability. That has been proven at Salford with how he transformed Brodie Croft into Super League’s best half-back, as well as revitalising the careers of players like Kallum Watkins.

He has also helped players such as Deon Cross become household names in Super League, and made numerous members of his squad, who were largely unwanted before arriving at Salford, become attractive to other clubs. That is a testament to Rowley’s man-management, and something he would likely be able to implement at Leeds with an under-performing squad.

Arthur, interestingly, also carries as a record as an excellent man-management according to those who know him in Australia. He is well respected by his players and commands respect in return – and with a number of big names at Headingley, that respect will be vital when it comes to transforming Leeds’ fortunes.

READ NEXT: The players who can represent England you didn’t know including NRL stars, Leigh Leopards duo

Stumbling blocks

Clearly, the big blocker for Rowley when it comes to a move to Leeds is his current employment. Salford would require a significant fee to grant Rowley a release – and while that is unlikely to put the Rhinos off if Rowley is their preferred candidate, it would complicate matters somewhat.

As for Arthur, he would be able to head over immediately but it remains unclear whether or not he’d be willing to lock himself into a long-term deal at Leeds or not.

The complication with overseas coaches always revolves around an inevitable return home at some stage. If they succeed in Super League, NRL clubs come calling: and that would deter a potential long-term project from being executed at Headingley, which the Rhinos undoubtedly want to put in place.

A succession plan, with an up-and-coming assistant being moulded into a potential successor for Arthur, is another option under consideration for Leeds. But they would ideally want Arthur committed long-term.

READ NEXT: Brad Arthur scout report: what Leeds Rhinos could expect from favourite to succeed Rohan Smith