Leeds Rhinos have sacked Head Coach Brian McDermott with immediate effect with Chief Executive Gary Hetherington now beginning the search for a long-term successor.
McDermott was the longest serving coach in Super League and the most successful in the summer era of the game winning four Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups, a League Leaders Shield and a World Club Challenge in his eight seasons at the club. In addition, he was assistant coach to Tony Smith for the 2004 Grand Final and 2005 World Club Challenge victories. He succeeded Brian McClennan in October 2011, returning to the club after five seasons coaching Harlequins RL in London. He has coached the Rhinos for almost twice as many games as any other Head Coach in the Super League era and last Thursday’s defeat at Wigan was his 265th game in charge of Leeds. The Rhinos have appeared in at least one Final in every year at the club including four Grand Finals, four Challenge Cup Finals and four World Club Challenges. In 2015, he was named Super League Coach of the Year and Coach of the Year at the 2015 UK Coaching Awards, the same year that the Rhinos captured the historic treble.
The Rhinos are currently in eighth position in the Betfred Super League table with four games remaining in the regular season, starting with this Sunday’s trip to face Castleford Tigers. The defence of the title won against the same opponent last October has been blighted by injuries to senior members of McDermott’s squad this season with up to 12 players missing at one occasion this campaign. Leeds are also in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi final when they will face Warrington Wolves at the Macron Stadium on 5th August looking to return to Wembley for a sixth time in nine seasons.
Commenting on the departure Chief Executive Gary Hetherington said, "It is always disappointing to announce the departure of someone who has contributed so much to our club’s success and Brian McDermott has certainly done that. The clubs most successful coach has also helped to forge a rugby operation with toughness, resilience and a strong desire to succeed, which his successor will inherit. That search will now begin in earnest.
"Eight years is a long time for any Head Coach at the same club and we have enjoyed much success and endured some difficult times along the way when tough decisions had to be made. We have always come through strongly but I do believe our present predicament requires change and that this is the right call for the club.
"Brian is a man of the utmost integrity and passion for Rugby League. He has so much to offer the sport and I have no doubt he will go on to achieve more success in the future. Leeds Rhinos will be forever indebted to his contribution," added Hetherington.
On the decision, Brian McDermott commented, "I am extremely disappointed this has happened and obviously it is not a decision I agree with. I wish everyone at the club the best and my thoughts will be with the team on Sunday and through to the end of the season."