Leeds have made an improbable decision for a side who have been at the top of Super League for most of this season by announcing that Daryl Powell will not be coaching them next season.
Powell has agreed a new four-year contract at Leeds, but for the first two of them he will be in the newly created post of director of rugby, with Tony Smith replacing him as first-team coach.
Smith announced on Monday that he had turned down an offer to stay at Huddersfield and was widely expected to become the inaugural coach of the new French entrants into Super League in 2005, Union Treiziste Catalan.
The Leeds chief executive, Gary Hetherington, denied that the enlistment of Smith, who has presided over a major improvement at Huddersfield this season, should be seen as any sort of demotion for Powell, who is contracted to return as coach after two years, when Smith intends to return to Australia for a job in the National Rugby League.
'"We've been having discussions with Daryl about a new contract for four or five weeks and one thing that emerged was that he would like the chance to broaden his experience,'' Hetherington said.
Leeds heard that Smith, frustrated by the lack of money to invest in the team at Huddersfield, was about to leave and made an approach to him on Sunday. On Monday, having finally rejecting Huddersfield's new deal, he accepted the offer.
Hetherington denied that yesterday's announcement would have a disruptive effect on a squad who have performed so well this season. "All of our squad are re-signed for next season and there will be no change in our coaching staff," he said.
That business as normal attitude extends to two players sentenced to a young offenders' institution this week for their part in a night-club fracas. Chev Walker and Ryan Bailey will not be replaced in the Rhinos squad and will be integrated back into the club when they have served their sentences.
One player leaving Headingley permanently, however, is the former England schools rugby union forward, Ewan Dowes, who has been on loan at Hull and has now signed a two-year deal to stay there.Reuse content