Leeds Rhinos: Leeds will play World Club Series match across the city at Elland Road

Final foes: Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton (left) and Leeds Rhinos captain Danny McGuire (right) with the Super League trophy during the Grand Final photocall at Old Trafford.
Final foes: Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton (left) and Leeds Rhinos captain Danny McGuire (right) with the Super League trophy during the Grand Final photocall at Old Trafford.
0
Have your say

LEEDS RHINOS will move next year’s World Club Series clash with one of Australia’s top teams to Elland Road, chief executive Gary Hetherington has confirmed.

LEEDS RHINOS will move next year’s World Club Series clash with one of Australia’s top teams to Elland Road, chief executive Gary Hetherington has confirmed.

Rhinos and Saturday’s Grand Final opponents Castleford Tigers are due to take part in a two-game showdown against their Australian equivalents in February.

Tigers have confirmed they will stage their tie at Wheldon Road, but Headingley is undergoing a major redevelopment – which will see the capacity slashed next year – and Hetherington said the best option is to play elsewhere.

“We have been talking to Leeds United – based on a what if scenario – and have made arrangements to play it there,” Hetherington revealed.

“Leeds United have been outstanding, very supportive and accommodating and a pleasure to deal with.”

Rhinos have played four previous World Club Challenge ties at Elland Road, but staged their three most recent games at Headingley.

The Super League and NRL champions have contested the World Club Challenge every year since 2000.

The competition was expanded to three teams from each hemisphere in 2015, but reduced to two matches this year.

Melbourne Storm crushed North Queensland Cowboys 34-6 in the NRL Grand Final two days ago.

Meanwhile, Hetherington says reaching the Grand Final has made this a “terrific” season for Rhinos.

Leeds endured a battle against relegation in the middle-eights Qualifiers last term after finishing ninth in Super League, but rallied this year to claim runners-up spot behind Tigers.

Hetherington wrote to fans after a record 66-10 defeat at Castleford in March suggesting changes to the playing and coaching staff could be on the cards. Seven months later Rhinos are preparing for their fourth Grand Final in seven seasons under boss Brian McDermott and Hetherington feels the players and coaching staff have proved their worth.

“That seems a long time ago,” he said of his email to supporters.

“The defeat at Castleford – and the measure of it – was quite alarming.

“I asked a question, which I didn’t know the answer to, which was: ‘Is this a one-off occurrence, that can and does happen in sport, or is it symptomatic of an on-going problem?’

“Only time would tell and I think it has. What I was hoping and honestly believed at the time was that it was a one-off and a combination of Castleford being outstanding on the night and us being below-form.

“The question was answered quite emphatically with the team’s results and performances in subsequent games.

“It was a one-off occurrence and Castleford have inflicted that type of defeat on other teams throughout the year.

“A feature of the season has been their outstanding form.”

Hetherington described Rhinos’ performances as “very solid throughout the season”.

He added: “We have come up with some extremely good wins.

“In fact, 20 wins which in 2015 was the number which achieved the league leaders’ shield and would do in any other given year.

“Such is the excellence of Castleford’s performances this year it has fallen short of claiming the league leaders, but any team that gets in the top-four can look back and say we’ve had an outstanding season.

“We have made the top-two and gone on to the Grand Final and we can look back on a terrific season and one in which the players and coaching staff have shown and a hunger and desire and have backed up their determination to make amends for a very disappointing 2016.

“I am delighted for them. Whenever we have been beaten we have always backed up with a victory which is testament - once again - to the resilience in the team.”

Harry Newman signs his new deal with Gary Hetherington watching on.

Young centre Harry Newman pens three-year contract at Leeds Rhinos