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Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Monday, 12 July 2010 12:26 UK

Francis Cummins & Willie Poching to leave Leeds Rhinos

Willie Poching (left) and Francis Cummins
Poching (l) and Cummins have both played and coached at Leeds

Assistant coaches Francis Cummins and Willie Poching will leave Leeds Rhinos at the end of the current season.

For Cummins, 33, it will bring to an end a 17-year relationship with Leeds as both a player and coach.

Poching, 36, moved to Headingley as a player in 2002, before retiring and becoming a coach in 2006.

Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said: "Francis and Willie have been key parts of this club's success in recent years."

Hetherington added: "As players, they helped changed the culture of the club as senior members of the squad into a winning habit that nurtured young players to fulfil their potential.

"As coaches, alongside Tony Smith and latterly Brian McClennan, they have guided the club during the most successful period in our history.

"Our policy as a club is to nurture talent, be it players or coaches.

"As we did with Brian McDermott and Tony Smith, we will always encourage our staff to reach for their full potential even if that means leaving our own organisation.

"I know that both Francis and Willie are completely committed to the club for the remainder of the season and then it will be appropriate for us to wish them all the best for the future."

I have been privileged to spend half my life at this great club but having spent five years as an assistant coach, it is appropriate that I look to take the next step and become a head coach

Francis Cummins

Both have been integral parts of the club's backroom team for the past three Grand Final victories.

Cummins explained: "I believe the timing is right now to confirm my intention to look for a fresh challenge for 2011 and beyond.

"I have been privileged to spend half my life at this great club but having spent five years as an assistant coach, it is appropriate that I look to take the next step and become a head coach.

"Obviously, there is no vacancy here at the Rhinos and that means I must look elsewhere.

"During my time at the club, I have seen us fight off relegation, change ownership and emerge from a period of underachievement to create a championship-winning squad and mentality."

Poching was assistant coach of Samoa at the last World Cup before he became head coach last season.

"Having been at the Rhinos for eight years, I can honestly say this has been the happiest and most successful period of my rugby career," stated Poching.

"Leeds have been a massive part of mine and my families life and we have immensely enjoyed our time here.

"I feel very proud of my achievements here, both as a player and as part of the coaching staff, in contributing to the success of the club.

"When the opportunity to join the Rhinos coaching staff arose four years ago, it was one I took with both hands and I have never looked back.


"I have learnt a tremendous amount under the previous head coach Tony Smith, and now under Brian McClennan.

"After nearly nine years though, it is time to move on, and if I am going to develop further, I need to expand on that knowledge base in a new environment.

"Like Franny, I do not have a position with another club at present, but I am looking to continue coaching, either as an assistant coach in Super League or a head coach for a National One side."

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