Leeds Knights - Tight Knights stick together for frantic spell that will define season
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Head coach Ryan Aldridge has spoken often this season about how ‘tight’ his roster is, how much they back each other and how team spirit has always been one of their strong points.
The success ensured he remained friends for life with his team-mates, having shared a special bond en route to a memorable triumphant.
At Leeds, Aldridge has a generally young bunch of players under him, with a well-chosen sprinkling of experience and much-needed ‘nous’ in the shape of Sam Zajac and Matt Haywood.
He sees echoes of the championship-winning Bees in the Knights locker room and, as his players prepare for gruelling period of nine in just 17 days – a spell which will determine both their league and National Cup aspirations – he believes that bond will carry them a long way.
Tonight sees them play their final Yorkshire derby of the regular season when they host Hull Seahawks before hitting the road for the rest of the weekend, visiting Swindon Wildcats before finishing off at Bees IHC.
With a rare overnight hotel stay added in, Aldridge sees the additional time together as a bonus.
“It’s not great in the sense you’re not sleeping in your own bed,” said Aldridge. “But the big positive is that it does give us that extra quality time together as a group which always helps with team harmony.
“But then this is a bunch who genuinely all get on anyway. They are a tight group and something like that is massively important and can carry you a long way.
“I’m a massive believer in that a tight, happy locker room wins championships. Every trophy that I’ve been lucky enough to win, the teams that I’ve played on, you are friends with those people for life - I know everyone says that, but it’s true.
“For example, 45 minutes after practice these boys are always in the locker room still talking. That’s the sign of a good locker room.
“When you walk in there 10 minutes after practice and everybody is out of there, you know that’s not a great locker room.”