Over the last few weeks the Yorkshire Evening Post has been asking readers to nominate their favourite-ever Leeds rugby league player in each position.
The results of our Greatest Rhinos team will be revealed next Monday, but who would this reporter pick in his best 13?
Readers have nominated players they’ve actually seen in action, rather than voting on reputation, so I will do the same – which means no place for the likes of Eric Harris, Lewis Jones and Arthur Clues, who would certainly rate among the greatest ever.
The key to the back division is where to play John Holmes, who could be in at stand-off, but will start at full-back in my side. Nobody has played more games for Leeds than Holmes and he had the vision and all the skills to have been a sensation in the Super League era.
The wingers are John Atkinson – second to Harris in Leeds’ list of all-time try scorers – and Ryan Hall, the club’s best of the modern era and the finest finisher in the world at the moment.
Atkinson was all speed and grace, while Hall has the build of a modern forward and is a more powerful type of winger, though – with a strong defence and safe under the high bomb – he has the complete package.
Both played/play on the left, but Hall’s young enough and good enough to switch to the other flank.
Garry Schofield has to be in there somewhere. One of the best talents produced in Leeds, he kept the side going for much of the 1980s with his dazzling attacking ability, along with the high work rate in defence of another player who will feature in the forwards.
Schofield will be partnered in the centres by Keith Senior. Maybe not the most skilful ever to play in that position, Senior was quick, tough, aggressive and powerful as well as incredibly durable. He was also a winger’s centre and a noted try scorer.
Schofield is in the centres so Danny McGuire can take his position at stand-off, alongside scrum-half Rob Burrow. Two modern greats and both six-time Grand Final winners.
And so to the pack. The props are Jamie Peacock and Barrie McDermott.
the former is Leeds’ best signing of the summer era, or some might say ever, while the latter was a huge influence in the late 1990s/early 2000s.
At hooker, though that position has changed almost beyond recognition, it has to be David Ward, who was a fantastic servant to the club as player and coach and a tremendous leader, as well as an exceptionally-good player.
In the second-row, Roy Powell is partnered with Graham Eccles. Powell may be a surprising choice, but – along with Schofield – he kept Leeds afloat in the 1980s with his never-say-die defence and was a much better player than he is given credit for.
Eccles was another magnificent forward and a key member of Leeds’ successful pack in the 1970s.
As for loose-forward. Ellery Hanley may be the best player this writer has ever watched on a consistent basis, but he doesn’t get in the team. His very best days were elsewhere and there’s no way Kevin Sinfield could be left out. An inspirational leader, brilliant reader of the game, world-class goal kicker..... he captains the side. The coach has to be Tony Smith, the catalyst for the golden era that Rhinos enjoyed since he masterminded their first championship in 32 years in 2004.
So my team is: Holmes, Hall, Schofield, Senior, Atkinson, McGuire, Burrow, Peacock, Ward, McDermott, Powell, Eccles, Sinfield (captain) –coach Tony Smith.