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Richard Agar replaces sacked David Furner at Leeds Rhinos

Furner, 48, was only six months into a three-year contract.

Richard Agar will be given an opportunity to become the permanent head coach of Leeds Rhinos following the shock sacking of David Furner.

Furner, 48, was only six months into a three-year contract after succeeding Brian McDermott at the start of the season but he managed just four wins from his 14 games in charge.

Leeds say they took the decision to "go in a fresh direction" following the 28-16 defeat at Salford last Friday which leaves the 2017 Betfred Super League champions third from bottom in the table.

Wigan Warriors v Leeds Rhinos – Betfred Super League – DW Stadium
Dave Furner paid the price for a poor start to the season (Martin Rickett/PA)

Leeds director of rugby Kevin Sinfield said: "This was a very difficult decision and not one we have taken lightly.

"David was an outstanding candidate to be our head coach and was my first choice for the job.

"Unfortunately, we have not started the season as we had all hoped and action was needed to move in a fresh direction with this group of players this season.

"I would like to thank David for his commitment to the club, especially the sacrifices he made to travel from his home in Australia to take up our challenge."

The move comes four days before the Rhinos play Bradford in the sixth round of the Coral Challenge Cup for which the vastly-experienced Agar will be in charge.

Agar, 47, was head coach of Hull and Wakefield before becoming number two to Tony Smith at Warrington and was also in charge of France from 2013 to 2015.

Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos – Betfred Super League – Mend-A-Hose-Jungle
Leeds director of rugby Kevin Sinfield has put Richard Agar in temporary charge (Mike Egerton/PA)

The former Featherstone, Dewsbury and Widnes stand-off then spent 12 months working as the head of player pathways at NRL club St George Illawarra before joining Leeds in a newly-created role of head of player and coach development in December.

Agar was then drafted onto Furner's coaching team when James Lowes left the club in April and now finds himself in temporary charge.

Sinfield added: "Richard Agar will act as interim head coach for the time being.

"We are fortunate to have a coach of his experience already on our staff which means we do not need to rush into making a permanent appointment."

Although Leeds' situation is dire, the apparent hasty removal of Furner is in sharp contrast to the loyalty they showed McDermott after they finished in the bottom four in 2016.

Sinfield appears to have accepted blame for a situation in which the club are seeking to appoint a second coach in 12 months but he retains the confidence of chief executive Gary Hetherington.

"This season has been really disappointing so far with team performances well below what we expected," Hetherington said.

"When Kevin returned to the club last summer, his primary focus was to restore the team to challenge for honours and he has the full support of our board to do this."

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David Furner pictured in February 2019
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