New Rhinos Sporting Director Ian Blease Faces Trio of Pressing Challenges

New Rhinos Sporting Director Ian Blease Faces Trio of Pressing Issues

Ian Blease’s tenure as the new Sporting Director of the Leeds Rhinos officially begins today, and the former Salford man has a lengthy to-do list to tackle. However, three key priorities emerge as Blease looks to address the ongoing challenges at Headingley.

It’s never a dull moment for the Rhinos, a club constantly abuzz with activity, and Blease will quickly discover the inner workings as he settles into his new role. His immediate focus will involve extinguishing the fires caused by the team’s embarrassing 18-10 defeat against Hull FC, while also initiating a thorough review, as he had previously outlined to the fans.

Blease’s First Priority: The Coaching Situation

Blease’s first order of business will be to either publicly back or part ways with the embattled head coach, Rohan Smith. The disconnect between Smith and the supporters has become increasingly evident, with chants of “We want Rohan out” ringing around the MKM Stadium. Blease must make a decisive move, either solidifying his support for Smith or finding a suitable replacement, a task that may prove challenging with limited options available.

Retaining Rhyse Martin’s Services

Secondly, Blease must resolve the contract situation surrounding star second-rower Rhyse Martin. The Papua New Guinean forward is one of Super League’s most consistent performers, and his impending free agency has attracted interest from rival clubs like Leigh Leopards and Warrington Wolves. Retaining Martin’s services beyond the 2023 season will be a priority for Blease and the Rhinos.

Strengthening the Forward Pack

Finally, Blease must address the weakness in the Leeds Rhinos’ forward pack. As identified by experts like Jon Wilkin, the Rhinos lack the necessary size, power and grit in the middle. With players like Mickael Goudemand and Sam Lisone failing to make significant contributions, Blease must prioritize strengthening the prop position, either through a mid-season loan or by targeting reinforcements for the 2024 campaign.

Blease’s ability to swiftly address these three key issues – the coaching situation, Martin’s contract, and the pack’s deficiencies – will be crucial in stabilizing the Rhinos and setting them on the path to success. The international break could provide the perfect opportunity for the club to make necessary changes, should Blease deem it the right direction to take.

🔗 Source