James Lowes, a former Great Britain rugby league international who has been working as an assistant coach at the Leeds Rhinos, has switched codes to become head coach of Leeds Carnegie.
Lowes, 43, had a long career with Hunslet, Leeds and the Bradford Bulls and briefly played union at a social level with Leeds-based West Park. He was an informal member of Leeds Carnegie's backroom staff last season.
The club's director of rugby Chris Gibson acknowledged there would be widespread surprise at the appointment and that it was "a big decision". He said: "We are aware of his undoubted strengths as a coach and whilst some may believe this is a bold move, we are confident it is the right move for our club to take us forward, not just for next season but hopefully for many years to come.
"People may point to his lack of experience in top flight rugby union coaching. However, we are fortunate here to have Sir Ian McGeechan on our board and I am sure they will have a close bond given both men's passion for coaching and developing the players in their charge."
Lowes replaces Diccon Edwards who quit earlier this month amid rumours he had fallen out with some of the senior administrators at the club.