LEEDS RHINOS’ traumatic season ended on a new low. Here are five talking points from the 17-16 home loss to Toronto Wolfpack.
1: Rhinos were fortunate not to get dragged into the Million Pound game. They could have lost at Widnes in the Qualifiers and got lucky late on against Salford. Of 21 competitive games since the end of April they won eight: four were against lower division teams and they beat relegated Widnes three times. From winning the Grand Final to losing at home against Toronto and securing safety on points difference in less than a year is a truly calamitous decline.
2: The defeat by Toronto was arguably Rhinos’ worst of the summer era. Wolfpack weren’t particularly good, but less bad than a Rhinos side which missed too many tackles, gave away needless penalties, had a player sin-binned and made a frustrating succession of errors. Rhinos again let a lead slip late on and are badly lacking a playmaker, some big forwards and on-field leadership.
3: Other than retaining Betfred Super League status the only positive from Leeds’ 2018 campaign is it’s over. The challenge now is to ensure nothing like it happens again. The club are keeping tight-lipped, but sources suggest recruits lined up – one in particular – will add real quality to the group if deals can be done. An overhaul is needed, but contracted players will only leave if another club wants them or they agree a pay off. That in turn limits the ability to make signings.
4: The transition from the Golden Generation was handled badly. Recruitment hasn’t been good enough, but a new coach is coming in, two signings are already confirmed and Kevin Sinfield has been appointed to deal with recruitment and oversee the rugby department. So, belatedly, issues arising over the past three years are being addressed.
5: Richie Myler was Rhinos’ official player of the year, with Jamie Jones-Buchanan second and Tom Briscoe third. Hard to argue, but this writer would have gone 1: Tom Briscoe, 2: Myler, 3: Ryan Hall.