Harlequins have appointed Rob Powell as their new head coach on a two-year deal, making him the youngest coach in Super League.
Rob, aged 30, has been Acting Head Coach since Brian McDermott’s departure to Leeds in September and was his assistant for four years at The Twickenham Stoop. Despite coming from the traditionally non-Rugby League playing area of South Yorkshire, Powell has a long and distinguished pedigree in the sport.
After graduating from Newcastle University, he continued to coach the University first team and achieved considerable success. In 2001 they reached the second round of the Challenge Cup and the following year were finalists in the BUSA Cup and won promotion to the Student National League.
In March 2004 Rob joined South London Storm, becoming a community sports coach and ultimately head coach of the club. During his tenure the South London side enjoyed a successful period on the pitch, including winning the National Conference championship in 2006.
Due to his experience in assisting the development of London Youth rugby at various age groups, Rob became head coach of Harlequin RL’s Foundation (U’16) Academy side in 2006.In January 2007 Rob was asked to join Brian McDermott’s first grade coaching set up as an assistant coach. In this role he coached the reserves side to the playoffs in 2008. Rob recently enjoyed a successful stint, as the National Coach of the Lebanon Cedars.
David Hughes, Chairman of Harlequins RL, said: “We have taken our time in this process to ensure it has been as thorough as possible and I would like to thank our supporters for their patience during this period.
“We have considered a number of candidates, sought advice from a range of knowledgeable sources and fully consulted with the senior players. Also, throughout this period we have also been able to monitor Rob’s performance in the role which has been excellent. He has the full backing of the players and has been integral in the re-signing and recruitment of the 2011 squad, which will be completed shortly.
“I am therefore totally convinced he is the best candidate for the job. Rob’s vision for Harlequins RL is completely in-line with my own and that of the Board as we remain committed to the continual development of, and investment in London regional talent. His knowledge of the sport from top to bottom in London is unrivalled and this appointment also re-emphasises that view and rewards excellent locally trained coaching expertise.
“I believe that we are stronger and will be better prepared for the season ahead and I genuinely think Rob will put London firmly back on the Rugby League map.”
Head Coach Powell said: “I am honoured to take up the position of Head Coach, having worked at the club on a full time basis for the last four seasons and in the wider London game for seven years.”
“I am aware of the challenges ahead and am really looking forward to it. We are confident we can have a really positive year, but we realise that in order to do so, we all need to pull together in the same direction to make it happen. In that sense I am glad we have such an excellent support staff including the experience of Latham Tawhai in the coaching department
“The squad has a great blend to it with a strong senior player group who have been together for a while, plus a good mix of talent from London, the North of England and overseas. We can’t wait for our two new players to arrive from Australia and add further quality and experience
“The first three weeks of pre season have been fantastic and the boys have responded really well to what we have been implementing. As a group, we are driven, focused and ready to go.”