Fri 10 June
The Lebanese Rugby League Federation has unveiled the new coaching team it hopes will lead the country into the Rugby League World Cup 2013 finals in England and Wales.
The staff, drawn from the NRL, Super League and the French federation’s elite division, sees Wests Tigers’ under-16 coach David Bayssari, an original Cedar in 1997, appointed head coach as successor to John Elias.
He leads a backroom staff that has been painstakingly assembled over several months. The 42-year old former Balmain first-grade player, whose family is from Hadchit in north Lebanon, moves into the job with high praise from his club boss Tim Sheens, the Australia coach, who was happy to endorse the appointment.
“David works with our junior representative programme and his selection as Lebanese Cedars head coach is a wonderful appointment and I wish him and the Cedars all the very best in their quest to qualify for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.”
Bayssari, who has 20-years’ top level rugby league experience as player and coach, views his appointment as one of great significance: “As a proud Lebanese-Australian I am honoured to have the opportunity to work with the Lebanese Rugby League Federation,” he said.
“I not only look forward to leading the Cedars to qualification for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup but in the development and growth of the game in Lebanon. The challenges will be immense, but with the support of the vast Lebanese community in Lebanon and abroad, I am determined we will overcome any hurdles put before us. To the entire Lebanese community, whether you live in Lebanon, Australia, Africa, America or Europe, I want this team to be your team, a team you can be proud of and support.”
Sydney Roosters’ Pierre Tannous has been appointed as assistant coach, in addition to a three-man consultancy panel comprising last year’s Cedars’ coaches, Harlequins RL duo Rob Powell and Latham Tawhai - both of whom relished their time in the Middle East and have maintained strong links with the LRLF - and the French federation’s performance director Thierry Dumaine. The new Cedars coaching team is fluent in Arabic, English and French, the three official languages of the country.
Carcassonnais Dumaine, 39, who overlooks the coaching set ups of all France’s selections, will lead Lebanon in the MENA Championship in Morocco later this month, reporting his findings to Bayssari in Sydney ahead of October’s world cup qualifiers. After the tour to Morocco, two of the senior local players will spend a two-week training camp under the watchful eye of Powell and Tawhai in London.
LRLF Chief Operating Officer Remond Safi, who masterminded the recruitment and selection process, was understandably delighted by the outcome.“These new appointments will see the LRLF go onto new heights as we now have a fine group of coaches from around the world’s most established rugby league nations all working towards developing and helping the LRLF gain a World Cup spot in 2013.”
In addition to the technical staff, Safi will be joined by a new Australian-based operations manager, Paul Arraj, currently with the NRL’s Bulldogs. Arraj will lead on fund-raising projects, not only for the qualifiers but also to support Lebanon’s burgeoning domestic programmes.