'He brings an edge to our group' - Dowson delighted as Saints appoint Radford as new defence coach

Phil Dowson believes Lee Radford will ‘bring an edge to our group’ after appointing the 44-year-old as Saints’ new defence coach.
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Radford has enjoyed a distinguished career so far in rugby league, winning numerous titles as both a player and a coach.

During a playing career which spanned 17 years, Radford made 158 appearances for Bradford Bulls in-between two spells at hometown club Hull FC, where he played 193 matches in total, and earned five international caps for England.

He became the youngest-ever player to represent Hull FC in 1998, and twice won the Super League Grand Final with Bradford Bulls in 2003 and 2005.

Lee Radford is Saints' new defence coach (photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)Lee Radford is Saints' new defence coach (photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Lee Radford is Saints' new defence coach (photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

He also reached two further Grand Finals (2004 and 2006), won the World Club Challenge in 2004, and claimed the Challenge Cup title in 2003.

Towards the end of his playing career, Radford was appointed defence coach at rugby union side Hull RUFC in National 2 North, winning the Yorkshire Cup title in 2011.

And once he hung up his boots permanently in 2011, Radford quickly ascended from an assistant coach role at Hull FC to head coach in 2013.

He won back-to-back Challenge Cup titles in 2016 and 2017, scooping the Super League’s head coach of the year award in 2016.

After leaving Hull FC, Radford took over as Castleford Tigers’ head coach from the start of 2022 until March of this year.

He was also appointed defence coach by Samoa for the Rugby League World Cup which was held in England in 2022, helping the side all the way to the final where they were eventually beaten by Australia.

And now Radford will be tasked with improving a Saints defence that really struggled last season, shipping the second most points and tries in the Gallagher Premiership, with only bottom side Newcastle Falcons faring worse.

Radford replaces Ian Vass, who has joined Clermont Auvergne as kicking coach on a two-year deal.

And Saints boss Dowson said: “From the very first meeting we had with Lee, Sam (Vesty) and I were impressed by the clarity of his philosophy, the simplicity of the principles that underpinned it, and his enthusiasm for the challenge.

“If you couple that with his experience as a coach at club and international level in rugby league, he brings some fantastic leadership skill and a new perspective on our game which we’re very excited about.

“Lee’s very ambitious, committed and driven to succeed, and we feel like he brings an edge to our group and will connect with the players really well.

“He will have a lot to learn working in rugby union, coming into our set-up from a rugby league background, but clearly there is a great heritage of coaches who have made that transition very successfully. He will look at things through a different lens and we hope we can make some significant improvements based on those ideas.”