Trent Merrin sought after for Super League marquee contract

“There is interest on both sides,” Furner said.

“No contract has been signed and he’s still with Penrith at the moment but there have been talks.

“We’ve got another quota spot and I’m looking at bringing in world class players in if we can.”

Furner, 47, who made 47 appearances for Leeds and was in the team that won the Grand Final in 2004, began his coaching career with Canberra, where he served as head coach from 2009-13, and was most recently assistant at South Sydney.

He had been linked the looming vacancy at Souths, which will now be filled by England head coach Wayne Bennett, but told media he was always committed to succeeding Brian McDermott at Headingley.

“There was no speculation for me,” he said, “I rang Kev and [chief executive] Gary [Hetherington] straight away to say I’m guaranteed, I’m booked.


“I was fortunate enough to play here for four years, which was a privilege, and I remember finishing off with a Grand Final, so the decision wasn’t a hard one.

“I remember the atmosphere and fans and, coming back seeing the same faces, it’s very strong for the club to have the same people involved.

“It’s a tremendous stadium, when it’s finished it will be one of best in competition, that’s something I noticed straight away.”

Sinfield, who played alongside Furner in 2003-04, says the Australian was on a three-man shortlist for the vacancy but was his No.1 target.

“When we decided we were going with a new head coach, we wrote a list of ideals and Dave ticked every box,” Sinfield said.

“He fully understands club and the game over here. We wanted the best person for the job and we feel we got that.”

Sinfield confirmed that forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan, 37, will play on in 2019 and is due to report for the start of pre-season training under the new coach on Monday.

Leeds have also signed Tonga international stand-off Tui Lolohea for 2019 but Furner says he will retain the club’s tradition of maintaining a pathway to Super League for the club’s best youngsters.

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