Lions legend Neil Back has been named as the new head coach of Leeds Carnegie.
Back, who became the oldest Test Lion when he played against New Zealand on June 25, 2005, had been thought to have been in the running for the vacant head coach role at Leicester Tigers but the 39-year-old has instead ended his association with the Guinness Premiership runners up.
"After meeting Gary Hetherington (Leeds Carnegie chief executive) and seeing the set up both at the club’s training ground and at Leeds Met, I knew that Leeds Carnegie presented me with the ideal opportunity to further my coaching career,” said Back.
“I have had some fantastic times at Leicester and it was a big decision to take myself out of the application process for the director of rugby position at the Tigers and end my long association with the club.
“However, I am excited about coming to Leeds Carnegie and joining the fight to regain our place in the Guinness Premiership. Having spoken with Stuart Lancaster, I am aware of the massive challenge that faces us next season; every team will want to beat Leeds and plenty will believe that this is their year to try to gain promotion. However, Andy and I are excited about coming to Leeds, starting on Monday, and getting down to work with the coaching staff and players to begin our preparations for the challenges ahead."
Back played five Tests for the Lions across three successive tours, starting in 1997 and ending in 2005 and has since hinted that he would love to coach at the highest level.
Since retiring as a player upon the conclusion of the 2005 tour to New Zealand, Back has been involved with academy, development and senior coaching at Leicester, with the last role being that of first-team defence coach.
Back will be joined at the recently relegated Yorkshire club by Leicester’s head of rugby development Andy Key, himself a former Tigers player. With Stuart Lancaster having departed for a role within the RFU at the end of the 2007/08 season, Key will take up the role of director of rugby alongside Back.
"We are delighted that Andy and Neil have agreed to join the club,” said Hetherington.
“It is the first time we have recruited our director of rugby from outside of the club since Phil Davies was appointed in 1996. Over the past 12 years, the club has changed remarkably and now the challenge for Andy and Neil is to take us forward to the next level.
“The first immediate aim is to return to the Guinness Premiership next season and both coaches will take charge of pre-season training on Monday to begin preparations for our National Division One campaign.”