Leeds RHINOS: New YEP Jury have their say on the season ahead

Jamie Peacock.

Jamie Peacock.

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Our newly-assembled Rhinos Jury look ahead to the 2015 season and the opening match at Hull Kingston Rovers.

Anne Bosanquet

A NEW season is upon us, bringing a new mantra that “every minute matters”.

It means teams will be keener than ever to make sure every game is a good performance.

They will want to claim their spots in the play-offs or play well enough to come up to Super League in 2016.

The introduction of the Million Pound Game – to decide the final place in the top division next year – is one I’m waiting to see and what effect this will have on the two clubs involved. Looking forward to the Rhinos’ opening game ahead against Hull KR, I’m hopeful for a win after the last performance we had against them.

However I’m fully expecting us to have to play hard for it.

One thing for sure, the Rhinos will have support behind them from the travelling fans and it’s sure to be good atmosphere for the first game of the season. It will be good to see former Leeds forward Ryan Bailey at Hull KR.

It is going be a different experience for him, I’m sure, starting from their changing rooms.

I’m keen to see how he has fitted in there and what that brings to the game.

For the Rhinos this season I’m looking forward to seeing our new signing Adam Cuthbertson in action.

We tried to sign him three years ago, so it’ll be interesting to see what he can finally bring to our team.

I’ll also be keeping an eye out for Ash Handley, after his Boxing Day performance.

We have some good youngsters coming through the ranks.

I am hoping the Rhinos can claim some silverware at Old Trafford this year and avoid the end of season position we ended last year.

With this being Jamie Peacock’s testimonial season and final year with the Rhinos, it would be great to have a good season, and have him finish his career on a high – preferably in Manchester.

Dianne Hall

It has been a long off-season, with no Super League to look forward to.

The highlight of the pre-Christmas period used to be the anticipation of the fixture list being released, to see when we will be playing in Perpignan – hoping for the summer holidays maybe, but not in March– and in the past, London Broncos.

It will be interesting to see how the new format pans out, though I think that a top-four finish, preferably top, is well within our capabilities.

The other Super League teams seem to have recruited more personnel than the Rhinos this off-season, which may upset some fans as we have not signed a big-name player for a while now.

We have lost some very experienced players – Ryan Bailey, Ian Kirke and Ben Jones-Bishop – and recruited only one, although the squad does have a decent balance of youth and experience.

If the youngsters get a chance in the first team I am sure that they will step up to the plate, especially if we do lose veteran forwards Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai at the end of the season, as planned.

This year we need to beat the top sides away from home – St Helens, Wigan and Warrington – to realistically challenge for a top-four spot.

Looking forward to the Hull KR game, it should be a cracker.

Former Rhinos favourite Bailey will get a good reception from the Leeds supporters and players, though it might be a different story when the whistle goes! Bailey versus Delaney, Bash brother v Bash brother, I can’t wait.

I think the Rhinos will be more fluent as a team, as Hull KR have quite a few more new faces in their ranks and may take a few rounds to gel as a team. They have lost several key players in important positions, especially hooker, which is a crucial role in any team.

Tickets have been selling well, Rhinos have already sold out their initial allocation and it should be a good game and good attendance.

Graham Poulter

Well, here we are on the eve of a new season that’s hopefully going to portray the game of rugby league in a good light.

It is the start of a new era for the Championship to Super League and I am looking forward to what will hopefully be a successful season for Leeds Rhinos.

I’m glad that the club didn’t succumb to the wishes of some supporters, who were calling for the head of coach Brian McDermott.

In his four seasons in charge he has shown his undeniable knowledge and quality as a head coach.

His pride for the club and players shines through and some of our supporters need to look at the bigger picture instead of allowing their emotions to overflow and having knee-jerk reactions to things.

We still have an excellent playing roster, which most clubs would happily take off us, despite us having let some of our quality players go. I would like to wish Ben Jones-Bishop, Chris Clarkson, Ryan Bailey and Ian Kirke well with their new clubs.

We have excellent youngsters within our squad, with good experience already gained through playing last year and being guided by and playing alongside experienced players, so the future of our club is in good hands.

Looking ahead to the opening game at Hull KR, I see a tough game in prospect.

With their new signings most likely making their debuts, they will be out to impress their new club and fans and also impose themselves on us.

The state of the pitch could have a say in how the game is played and the outcome of the match, depending on the conditions on Sunday.

But I still back us to have the quality and game management to see us home to an opening victory. The experience and guile of our players will be more than enough to a first two points on the board.

We will win 30-10.

Jamie Smith

It has felt like a lifetime, but the Super League season is finally back.

With promotion and relegation once again on the agenda under the competition’s new format, this should see the league be more competitive this season.

The bottom four clubs will be in relegation danger, against the best teams from the Championship and that will make it more intense every week as nobody will want to be one of the teams fighting for their top-flight lives once the season splits in July.

Not surprisingly, we haven’t seen the Rhinos do much business during pre-season, with Australian forward Adam Cuthbertson being the only addition to the squad.

This lack of activity doesn’t worry me because the likes of Liam Sutcliffe, Josh Walters and Elliot Minchella, to name but a few, handled themselves last season in a mature and professional way which showed that they are more than capable of handling the pressures of playing at such a high level. Although there’s a lot of excitement and high expectations at the moment, we will sadly see legend Jamie Peacock hang up his boots at the end of the season.

He has been a great player for Leeds for nearly a decade so, with us also wanting to put right last year’s early play-off exit, I expect this team to pull out all the stops to ensure that JP has the perfect send off, another Grand Final winner’s ring at Old Trafford.

An opening day trip to Hull KR awaits us for the second year in a row. The Robins have seen a lot of players come in during the off season and it is going to take some time for them to get used to playing together.

With only one new face in the team, the Rhinos already have that chemistry and I think this will prove a key factor with Rob Burrow being instrumental in what the Rhinos do throughout the afternoon.

My prediction is the journey won’t be a wasted one for the team and the travelling faithful as a victory comes in the form of a 34-12 scoreline.

Jon Winter

At last the season is here.

It’s a big campaign for Leeds and for rugby league in general, with the new format that will see the league split into three in what has been dubbed as “RL’s New Era”.

Hopefully it will bring excitement back into the regular season, as many end of season league games have tended to disappoint with teams wanting to peak for the play-offs. With the main Super League play-offs now being centred on the top-four in the table, it will put more of an onus on to sides to win as many games as possible, to gain more favourable fixtures in the Super-8s.

Also, with there only being two play-off games, let’s hope this will see fans turn out in force, as play-off games in recent years have attracted disappointing attendances.

It’s tough to predict who will make the top-four, though.

Warrington Wolves seem to be building well with the additions of Man of Steel Daryl Clark and NRL forward Ashton Sims.

However Catalans Dragons seem to have a great chance of making the shake-up, with the signings of Willie Tonga, Todd Carney and the return of Remi Casty.

Leeds, with the losses of Ryan Bailey, Ian Kirke and Ben Jones-Bishop, seem to be relying on youth this season.

That’s something which I think many Rhinos fans were wanting last season.

However the addition of Adam Cuthbertson – who is our only new face this year – could be a master stroke.

It’s time to build for the future with many of the Golden Generation squad coming to the end of their careers.

Leeds have four players on loan at Featherstone Rovers and four on dual-registration at Hunslet Hawks gaining valuable experience that will stand them in good stead for Super League. On Sunday, Leeds will begin this season as they did last away at Hull KR.

Let’s hope we can get off to a good start once again.

Craig Tarbotton

I think it could be a tough season ahead for the Rhinos.

Many fans were hoping to see a few new faces in the squad, but Adam Cuthbertson is the only new recruit and from what I’ve seen of him so far, he seems to be fitting in nicely.

We also have Andy Yates, who is like a new signing having spent his first season out injured.

I’m sure he will want to make up for lost time, having played only one game last year – and that was on dual-registration with Hunslet Hawks.

He has had a tough time since joining the club, with Achilles and biceps injuries, so he will be raring to go.

I’m a big fan of giving youngsters a chance and I think Brian McDermott will start using the young lads more and more over the next couple of seasons as some of the old guard will be retiring, or perhaps rotated in order to give the young lads game time.

I feel our rival Super League teams have made some great signings and strengthened their squads greatly. Let’s hope a blend of the old heads and youngsters is enough for us to be challenging for honours once more.

I’m looking forward to seeing Zak Hardaker in action this year. I think he would have been a Man Of Steel contender if he hadn’t received that long ban.

I’m also a big fan of Brad Singleton.

He was dubbed the next Jamie Peacock and I think he’ll shine this year.

He looks to have trimmed down and seems lighter on his feet and he’s still capable of putting in those big tackles, which rock the opposition and get the crowd on their feet.

As for the opening game, I know Leeds will be keen to set a marker for the season and I can see them winning by at least 20 points against a Hull KR side who may take time to gel with many new recruits.

Danny McGuire and Liam Sutcliffe – though he didn’t play in Jamie Peacock’s testimonial – have looked impressive in pre- season and I think they’ll be key to victory.

Matt Parcell.  PIC: Tony Johnson

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