As Leeds Rhinos square up to North Queensland Cowboys in the Dacia World Club Challenge this weekend, we pick six of the greatest players ever to have worn the Leeds shirt throughout the club’s illustrious history.
It would be pointless talking about the Rhinos’ greatest players without mentioning the man they call “Sir Kev”. During a career with Leeds that spanned 18 years, Kevin Sinfield’s list of club achievements is staggering having won the Grand Final, League leaders’ shield, World Club Challenge and Challenge Cup. His personal honours are no less impressive. He holds the record for the most Super League appearances, goals and points and was runner up in last year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He capped a glorious Rhinos career by guiding the club to a treble-winning season.
Lewis Jones was the wonder boy of Welsh rugby before he switched codes and joined Leeds for a then-record fee of £6,000 in 1952. His acceleration over the first few yards was stunning, allowing him to penetrate almost any defence and enabling him in the mid-1950s to become the biggest star in the game. Jones spent 12 years at Leeds during which time he clocked up 385 appearances, winning the Challenge Cup, Championship and Yorkshire Cup. He also plundered 144 tries and became the first player to notch 1,000 goals for Leeds.
The all-conquering Kevin Sinfield is a hard act to follow, but when Danny McGuire was unveiled as the Leeds Rhinos’ club captain prior to the start of the new season, he was the logical choice. The 33-year-old has spent his entire career with the Rhinos and his credentials and sporting prowess are beyond question. He is currently the highest try scorer in Super League history and has won seven Super League titles as well as two Challenge Cups during his time with the club. Injury has sadly forced him out of the big showdown this weekend.
John Holmes was a genuine Leeds sporting hero. During a remarkable career that started before man had landed on the moon and ended the year that marked the end of the Berlin wall, Holmes made a record 625 appearances for the club.
A hugely talented full-back/stand-off, Holmes’s greatest trait was his reading of the game which those who played alongside him never ceased to admire. He won a raft of club honours, including the Challenge Cup and the John Player Trophy, and to this day he is regarded by many as Leeds’s finest-ever player.
Iestyn Harris only played for Leeds for three years but his time at the club coincided with the lucrative revamp of rugby league and its move into the modern era. He played 139 times for Leeds and captained the team from full-back during the inaugural Super League Grand Final against Wigan in 1998. That match ended in a narrow defeat but Harris went on to win the Challenge Cup with Leeds. A superb goal-kicker, Harris broke the club record for goals in a season in 1999 with 168, and also won the much-coveted Man of Steel award.
Jamie Peacock is, in the eyes of many fans, one of the club’s best ever signings. The powerful prop played for Leeds for nine years before hanging up his boots last year at the age of 38. Peacock was a key part of the Rhinos’ triumphant treble-winning season and his ample boots will take some filling. But Peacock also leaves behind a legacy of great memories and a Rhinos CV that includes six Grand Final victories, along with a couple of League leaders’ shields, Challenge Cups and World Club Challenges thrown in for good measure. He was the kind of player who rose to the big occasion.