Leeds Rhinos fans proud after Rob Burrow tribute, hail Brodie Croft, call for experienced coach

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A lot has happened in the last week, with Rohan Smith stepping down as Leeds Rhinos coach, the club staging a remarkable tribute to the late Rob Burrow and the team bouncing back to winning ways in impressive form.

Here, the YEP’s fans panel reflect on one of AMT Headingley’s most memorable nights, including the vastly-improved performance against Leigh Leopards and reveal what they want from an incoming coach.,


On a night when the actual game of rugby seemed somewhat insignificant, we paid tribute to Rob Burrow on an emotional evening at Headingley. The sheer number of people who turned up, including ex-teammates of Rob’s, is a testament to his character and the impact he had on everyone's lives. It was a perfect way to say goodbye to our little legend and I cannot thank Leeds Rhinos and Sky Sports enough for all the work they did to make sure we had this evening.

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Fans in AMT Headingley's East Stand hold up flags marking out Rob Burrow's initials and squad number seven before Leeds Rhinos' game against Leigh Leopards. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.Fans in AMT Headingley's East Stand hold up flags marking out Rob Burrow's initials and squad number seven before Leeds Rhinos' game against Leigh Leopards. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Fans in AMT Headingley's East Stand hold up flags marking out Rob Burrow's initials and squad number seven before Leeds Rhinos' game against Leigh Leopards. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

On the field, it was the complete opposite performance to what we saw at Hull. All the players involved looked like they had a point to prove and made sure they put their bodies on the line to secure the win for Rob. It was like they had been freed from the shackles of the previous regime.

It wasn't a perfect performance, but it was definitely a step in the right direction. We looked a lot more dangerous than we have in a while and could have scored more on another day.

What I enjoyed most from the game on Friday was the standout performance by Brodie Croft. He looked like a man possessed throughout the game. Whether he had been given more freedom to play since Rohan Smith’s departure or he simply rose to the emotional occasion, there was nothing stopping him making sure Leeds got the win.

Brodie scored two tries which were both well taken, but it was his effort in defence that stood out to me. Multiple times he stopped Leigh from going over to score and he really did lead by example. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come from our star man as we push towards the play-offs.

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Man of the match Brodie Croft opens the scoring for Leeds Rhinos against Leigh Leopards. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.Man of the match Brodie Croft opens the scoring for Leeds Rhinos against Leigh Leopards. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Man of the match Brodie Croft opens the scoring for Leeds Rhinos against Leigh Leopards. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Rohan's departure from the club was announced this week and while I do appreciate the work he put in, it was time for a change. He has left the club in a better place than when he started and I wish him the best for the future. That run to the 2022 Grand Final will never be forgotten.

Leeds now need to make sure they hire the right head-coach. We need an experienced winner who will take this club back to where we belong, or else we'll be having the same conversations in a few years’ time.


Friday night proved to me why I’m proud to be a Rhino. We should all be proud of how - as a club and supporters - we came together to show respect for the legend Rob Burrow. Leigh also need thanking for being part of a special night and showing their respects with the flag they brought with them. The whole night was full of emotion, on and off the field.

Coming to the match, what a game it was. There was true determination and the whole team played their hearts out. They were on fire and we saw what a team we really have.

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Brodie Croft with his two tries, one a length of the field run, was absolute class. The movement and attack through the whole match was outstanding and maybe the kick-start we need coming towards the back end of the season to get into the top-six and the play-off places.

Who knows who we are going to get as coach, but I’m sure we will find out soon. Rohan Smith leaving by mutual agreement didn’t come as much of a shock. Now for the next chapter in the Rhinos’ history and let’s see what journey we go on next. In the words of Rob: “In a world full of adversity, we must dare to dream.”


What an emotional night. Credit must go to the staff at the club and Sky Sports for putting together a fantastic tribute to Rob Burrow. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when Geoff Burrow talked about his son.

Everything from the parade of ex-players to the guard of honour for Lindsey and her children was so touching and superbly done. Rob, I’m sure, would have loved the night and the players put on a show that lived up to the occasion.

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Putting out an under-strength team - with seven players missing through concussion - and Leigh being in good form and on the up after a good win in the south of France, I was expecting another loss, but the team played out of their skin, especially Brodie Croft. He was everywhere, scoring two superb tries, the first befitting of Rob himself, but also his defence was brilliant. Ned McCormack and Alfie Edgell deserve special mention, the two young players handled the occasion extremely well and put in good performances.

Our pack, for once, was on the front foot, Justin Sangare and Mik Oledzki doing some barnstorming runs and Sangare, particularly, making some cracking tackles. Mr Consistency Rhyse Martin was all over the field, especially in defence.

Leeds proved on Friday night they can play without making silly, unforced errors. They made very few and this must continue for the rest of the season. We have the Broncos up next at HQ, then a tricky away fixture at Warrington. Let’s hope we can carry the spirit of Rob into those games and get positive results.

If we keep playing like we did on Friday, then I think the play-offs are a real possibility. The next job for the club is to get a new coach in place as soon as possible, but we do need a man with top-level experience and a proven track record.

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If a week is a long time in politics, then two days is even longer in rugby league. It should be noted that Rohan Smith did the honourable thing, departing so as not to detract from Friday’s tribute to Rob Burrow. Rohan is a good guy, but often in life there are occasions when it is a case of ‘right place, wrong time’. He’ll probably make a great assistant-coach somewhere, some time soon.

Pre-game, the tribute put together for Rob Burrow was second to none. Even the Leigh fans showed their class with a huge Burrow banner appearing behind the sticks. Like Wembley, the South Stand - and the rest of the ground - was packed with folks who were suddenly struck with dust in their eyes or a dodgy contact lens throughout the excellent tribute.

The game also ran to script. Unshackled Brodie Croft finally showed what made him Man of Steel and produced two top-drawer tries. The much-maligned Matt Frawley got the other. Leigh duly stayed away for the first hour, before popping up to give the game an interesting last quarter. Croft’s tears at the end, one of the best atmospheres in the new South Stand …the game was a huge reset between the club, the players and the fan base. Ian Blease’s job is to now make a massive appointment; no more experiments or projects, but a coach worthy of taking the team forward.

Finally, a big thanks to Northern Rail for their efforts to screw up the evening for many fans. In their infinite wisdom they cancelled both the 19.29 Leeds to Burley Park and the return at 22.12, used by many fans on match nights. That forced me into getting a taxi to the ground.

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Rather than take the refund, I’ve offered Northern Rail the opportunity to instead donate my ticket and taxi costs to Rob’s Leeds Hospitals Charity MND fund. Maybe they’ll extend the offer to other fans similarly inconvenienced on the night? Over to you, Northern.


Friday night at Headingley was something special. It made me proud to be a Leeds fan. The class with which the club has conducted itself following the death of Rob Burrow and - spelling mistake on the banner aside - the quality of the celebration of Rob’s life was unbelievable to witness and will stay with me for a long time. It was sad, poignant, respectful as well as glorious and I hope it gave comfort to Rob’s family, friends, teammates and fans.

As for the game, well what became immediately apparent is that things were worse than we thought under previous coach Rohan Smith. This was a team let off the leash. Given the instructions to be more aggressive in defence and backs playing like backs and forwards playing like forwards, it was an impressive display. It also seemed to me some players were glad to see the back of Smith more than the fans were.

Brodie Croft, who had been playing like the smallest second-row in the competition, was able to show exactly why we signed him; the lad is a world class half-back and free of Smith’s ‘gameplan’ he was able to put in a man of the match performance. I’m looking forward now more than ever to a new coach who can bring out the best in these players.

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