THREE YEARS after getting the boot from Leeds Rhinos, Kyle Amor has a Grand Final winner’s ring to go with it.
Rhinos had high hopes for Amor when they signed him from Whitehaven, but he made just three substitute appearances in 2010 and was loaned to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats the following season, a move which later became ‘permanent’.
With veteran props Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai getting close to retirement, Rhinos’ management may well now be regretting their decision.
Amor was snapped up by St Helens at the end of last season, when Wildcats needed to cash in on a transfer fee and savings on wages and the move paid off for the rugged Cumbrian prop, who helped Saints to the league leaders’ shield and their first Super League title since 2006.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Evening Post after Saints’ 14-6 conquering of Wigan Warriors at Old Trafford, Amor said: “Each player has had their own story and their own ups and downs, but I am over the moon, absolutely delighted and proud to be part of this great club, with these special lads.
“We’ve done something now that nobody can take away from us. I was pretty settled living in Leeds and I had chance to sign for Huddersfield. I was very, very close to doing that, but something in my gut told me to go and move my family to Saints.
“My kid was settled in school and my wife had a few tears about moving again, after coming down from Cumbria to Yorkshire. But something told me this was the right thing to do, but to come here and in my first year win the league and the Grand Final, it’s something that won’t sink in for a few days. It is crazy. It was a real low point in my career when Leeds let me go and I had to go to Wakefield and prove I was good enough to be a Super League player, so I am absolutely delighted. I worked in a factory for six years at 2 and 3 in the morning, so I am massively grateful to have played on a stage like that.”
Amor said he received “loads” of good luck messages from former Leeds and Wakefield team-mates. He added: “JP and Kylie texted me during the week and when I first went from Whitehaven to Leeds it was people like that who put an arm round me, which I probably didn’t deserve because I didn’t really do anything at that club. They were great mentors for me and going to Wakefield I had people like Andy Raleigh looking after me, so I’ve always had people to look up to.”
The front-rower also felt Leeds did injury-ravaged Saints a favour by knocking them out of the Challenge Cup. He said: “That was the best thing for us, because it allowed us to do a mini-pre-season and go over a few things and it worked wonders for us.”
Saints’ victory ended a run of five Grand Final defeats since their previous title triumph eight years ago, but a poor-quality decider will be remembered for just one thing, Wigan prop Ben Flower’s red card after only two minutes. The opening exchanges included a tangle between Flower and Saints scrum-half Lance Hohaia. Hohaia then caught the Welshman with a forearm to the throat/face and in retaliation was flattened by a punch to the head.
What happened next was one of the most disgraceful incidents witnessed on a rugby league field in the summer era as Flowers knelt over his defenceless opponent and punched him again in the face. Flowers became the first player sent-off in a Grand Final and his actions sparked widespread outrage. He has since apologised for his actions
Wigan led 6-2 at the break through a Matty Smith penalty and Joe Burgess try, but touchdowns by Sia Soliolo and Tommy Makinson, plus two Mark Percival conversions to add to his first half penalty won it for Saints.