Rob Powell named as Harlequins boss

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The Independent Online

Thirty-year-old Rob Powell today became the youngest head coach in Super League after being confirmed as the successor to Brian McDermott at Harlequins.

Sheffield-born Powell, who has been on the backroom staff at the Twickenham Stoop for the last four years and has been acting head coach for the last two months, has been given a two-year contract.



McDermott announced in August he was returning to his old job of assistant at Leeds and was last month promoted to head coach following Brian McClennan's decision to step down.



Powell has impressed Harlequins chairman David Hughes during his temporary tenure, in which he has overseen the recruitment and retention of players for Super League XVI and taken charge of pre-season training.



Hughes 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.



"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."



Although he was a Sheffield Eagles supporter, Powell did not play his first game of rugby league until 1998 while studying at Newcastle University but, after graduating, he took over as coach of the team and in 2004 joined South London Storm, initially as a community sports coach and ultimately head coach.



Powell then became involved with Harlequins' youth development before being promoted by McDermott as his assistant in 2007.



Powell, who is only the fifth British head coach out of 14 in Super League, will have New Zealander Latham Tawhai as his assistant.



"I am honoured to take up the position of head coach," he said. "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."



Powell takes over as the youngest coach in Super League from Australian Justin Morgan, who took over Hull KR at the age of 30 in 1995 but had turned 31 by the time his club entered the top flight.



Steve McCormack holds the record for being the youngest coach in Super League. He was 28 when he took charge of Salford in 2001.



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