Leeds Rhinos: Major changes not on cards - Hetherington

Gary Hetherington

Gary Hetherington

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CHIEF EXECUTIVE Gary Hetherington has ruled out major changes to Leeds Rhinos’ backroom staff or playing squad ahead of next season.

Fans have called for new signings after Rhinos finished sixth in First Utility Super League, their lowest position in the table since 1996 and were knocked out in the first round of the play-offs. Hetherington backed coach Brian McDermott – who guided Rhinos to their first Challenge Cup triumph in 15 years this season – and called for fans to support the club’s way of doing things.

“I believe stability is a key factor for success,” Hetherington said.

“I know fans like to see a raft of new signings and new coaches and that model certainly operates in football today, but for me, that is the perfect recipe for non-achievement.

“It does provide instant interest and excitement, but for fans who crave to be part of a club that can consistently challenge for honours in a very tough and competitive league, then please put your trust in our model.”

At the start of this year Hetherington described Rhinos’ squad as the club’s best-ever – and he believes that has not changed.

“Our target for 2015 is to win the league leaders’ trophy, retain the Challenge Cup and win back the Super League title,” he said.

“And I firmly believe we will have our best-ever squad ready to meet this challenge and play together for the last time.”

Hetherington said all the current senior squad are contracted for 2015 and a 25-man full-time group will be confirmed within the next six weeks, but he stopped short of ruling out any new signings being made by the club.

“Recruitment is never done,” he said.

“At the moment we don’t have anybody lined up, but it’s an on-going process that never stops and never starts.”

The Leeds chief said speculation hooker Paul Aiton is set to leave the club and will be replaced by Huddersfield Giants’ Shaun Lunt is “entirely without foundation”.

Leeds Rhinos' Carl Ablett powers through the Featherstone defence during the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final match at Headingley Carnegie. PIC: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

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