Successive victories, including a 12-0 shut-out of previously in-form Hull KR last week, have eased Rhinos’ relegation fears and revived hopes they could yet take something positive out of this season.
Rhinos are without a game this week, but here are five talking points after an eventful few days for the club.
1: Team talk. A very decent team could be made from the players unavailable for last week’s game: Walker, Briscoe, Newman, Hardaker, Fusitu’a, Myler, Sezer, Holroyd, Johnson, Tetevano, Bentley, Sutcliffe, Mellor. They’d fancy their chances of beating the side that did start against Hull KR.
2: JJB. Which shows how far Rhinos have come under interim-boss Jamie Jones-Buchanan. They won two and drew one of his six games in charge and performances still aren’t where they need to be, but the spirit is much better and confidence is growing. Smith will inherit a team heading in the right direction.
3: Right time, right place. Smith’s arrival is perfectly timed, with two weeks to prepare for the next game, influential players set to return and two fixtures coming up against teams below Rhinos in the table.
4: Ryan, Ryan Hall. Players who have done well for Rhinos usually receive a warm reception if they return to Headingley with another club. It was good to see the South Stand chanting Ryan Hall’s name last Friday and the winger, who was clearly chuffed, acknowledging their support. A nice tribute to one of the club’s all-time greats.
5: Open window. The start of May means clubs can approach opposition players who are in the final year of their contract. Leeds have several in that category and likely to be in demand is utility-back Jack Broadbent. Not in favour earlier in the season, he was given a chance because of injuries and has impressed in the past two games. Broadbent isn’t the finished article, but he is versatile and talented and it’ll be disappointing if Rhinos don’t keep him.