THERE WAS a mood of satisfaction, delight and possibly disbelief in the winners’ press conference after Leeds Rhinos’ latest Old Trafford triumph.
The 22-20 victory over Wigan Warriors in the First Utility Super League Grand Final completed an historic treble of trophies, following this year’s Ladbrokes’ Challenge Cup and league leaders’ shield successes.
The clean sweep made this the most successful season in Leeds’ 125-year history and coach Brian McDermott described his third Grand Final win as “brilliant”.
Said the boss: “I wasn’t here for the three in a row [successive Grand Final wins from 2007-2009] and they’ll have to qualify whether this is up there with that.
“That in itself was unbelievably special and I’m not sure whether that will ever get done again, but to do the treble in the same year is brilliant. It will stay with us forever.”
It was the seventh time Kevin Sinfield had captained Leeds to Grand Final glory and his final goal for the club in his last competitive appearance proved the winner.
“It’s the perfect ending,” Sinfield said. “To do the treble in my final year’s unbelievable really.
“I’m really, really thankful, really proud. The lads I get to play alongside every week and train with every day have been huge this year.
“Mac as coach, the backroom staff, everyone involved with club has created a place where it has been very, very special to play.”
Sinfield added: “The good thing about winning the final game is that all through pre-season, for these guys now it will be there with them and in pre-season, when it’s tough, it really spurs you on to even go even further. For me it’s slightly different, but I will certainly remember it.
“I remember them all, but to finish on an ending like tonight – against a great team as well I must add – and for it to be so tough out there, to come through was brilliant.”
Danny McGuire scored a brace of tries, taking his Grand Final total to six. He was involved in Leeds’ other two touchdowns and named man of the match, winning the Harry Sunderland Trophy.
“I just think for achievements, it’s top,” he said of his seventh Grand Final triumph in eight appearances at Old Trafford. “We were all a bit emotional and I felt drained early on as three of my best mates are not going to be playing with me next year. Psychologically, you put it to the back of your mind, but you want to send them out on the best terms possible and we did that through sheer determination and hard work.
“But it will be weird now not having the Sinfield shirt next to mine on a Friday night. Things are going to be changing. I just really wanted to play as well as I could and to run my blood to water for JP, Kev and Kylie. They really deserved to bow out on a high and, thankfully, they did.”
McDermott paid tribute to McGuire’s contribution. He said: “He’s had a fantastic year, really changed his game from a fast, nippy support player, who finished off loads of good stuff.
“Mags, Kev and Rob [Burrow] have been brilliant, but at the same time it needs managing as well and throughout that Mags’ influence this year has been incredible. He just missed out by a hair’s breadth for our player of the year from Kallum Watkins.
“He’s been instrumental in a lot of good things we’ve done and he’s a tough man as well.”