Our all new YEP Jury give their verdicts on the new Super League season and look ahead to St Helens v Leeds Rhinos.
How will Leeds do in 2017? I think it’s fair to say that opinion is split over whether or not Leeds have done enough to move back up the table in 2017.
And, although the signings made in the off-season haven’t been the most eye-catching, I personally think steps have been made in the right direction.
New hooker Matt Parcell is a very exciting player, as he has shown in his two friendly-game appearances. I believe if he can settle into Super League quickly; he can go a long way to replacing what was lost in James Segeyaro.
Jack Ormondroyd could prove to be a smart signing too, and he has made a good case for himself to be involved at St Helens with some strong, try-scoring performances.
It is not just the new faces that will improve Leeds, though. Hopefully the luck on the injury front won’t be as bad as it was in 2016, and, if that is to be the case, then having the likes of Danny McGuire, who still has a lot to offer, and Stevie Ward back playing regularly can only have a positive impact.
The results in the warm-up games, aside from Wakefield on Boxing Day, have been promising.
The convincing win over Hull KR and the 24-0 win over an improving Featherstone Rovers side were confidence boosters, not least due to the defensive resolve Leeds displayed on both occasions. Only time will tell if the same kind of performances can be put in against higher-quality opposition.
St Helens in the opening round will be a big test. As we know, Saints are a club who are constantly finishing in the top positions, so for a Leeds team who are looking to get back to doing just that, the result at the ‘Totally Wicked Stadium’ could be a big indicator of just where the Rhinos are in terms of their ability to compete with the ‘big boys’ again.
I go into this season cautiously optimistic about what Leeds will do.
I’m not expecting Super League success, or even a trophy for that matter, but I feel a Super-8s place and possibly even a push at the top four is certainly achievable.
So, after a few months of sulking around, being bored on a Friday night and having no video ref decisions to debate, our new season is upon us and I, like many others can’t wait!
To me, this coming season looks as open as Super League has ever been with no-one really standing out at the top or anyone looking certainties to be at the bottom.
As far as our chances go, if we stay fit and healthy our squad is full of talent and has the experience, I see no reason why we can’t be challenging back up at the top, providing someone can kick some goals for us!
After the Segeyaro carry on, it was vital we got in a good replacement and in Matt Parcell I believe we have someone who is keen, wants to play for Leeds and has the ability to really do well in the blue and amber. His style reminds me of James Roby, looks to have pace to burn and isn’t afraid to get stuck in.
So here’s to a new start, forget 2016 and let’s get back where we belong and challenge for silverware.
From quality to qualifiers, the last season for the Rhinos was one to forget but hopefully the turmoil of 2016 will stand many in good stead coming into the new season.
The Rhinos haven’t made any ‘huge’ signings but they are definitely preparing for the future.
Jack Ormondroyd has had a stormer of a pre-season and I predict big things for him in a Rhinos shirt.
Stevie Ward will be like a new signing coming into the new season, a future Rhinos captain for sure.
Brian McDermott hasn’t ruled out silverware and it’s certainly not out of reach for this squad – on paper.
After a strong pre-season, the Rhinos are raring to go. I’m predicting a top-six finish. Beware the wounded beast …
Whilst this may be billed as a transitional year, there can be no excuses about the pre-season preparations going in to 2017 after the debacle of last year. Let’s hope the recent loan of players to Bradford doesn’t backfire in the short term, and Leeds should, realistically, be aiming for a top-four berth.
It’s time. A new season. A new start. Super League has returned once again, bringing a fresh wave of hope and anticipation amongst the fans.
The journey of the Leeds Rhinos doesn’t always run smooth, as shown by the past few seasons.
Achieving top honours one year, to fighting to keep a place in the top league the next, it’s undeniably been a rocky path.
Still, this week brings a fresh start. I truly can’t wait to see what comes following the first whistle in that first game. To me, it is this year that the Rhinos finally have the chance to stand anew.
Last year the expectations were set high. This year feels more realistic.
It’s time to start climbing back up the ladder to the top.
Having benefited from a full pre-season, Rhinos can look forward to 2017 with some confidence. Fans, meanwhile, can only hope they will be able to hit the ground running. A difficult start by anyone’s standards, away to both St Helens and then Leigh; maximum points would be a fantastic achievement.