Leeds Rhinos face stronger Halifax in Wheelchair rugby league Grand Final
LEEDS RHINOS’ all-conquering wheelchair rugby league team could complete the treble - and an unbeaten season - today.
Rhinos take on arch-rivals Halifax in the sport’s Grand Final in Medway, Kent, hoping to add the Super League title to their Challenge Cup and league leaders’ honours.
Leeds are defending champions after beating Halifax a year ago, but player-coach Josh Gardner reckons they will actually go into this evening’s final (7pm) as underdogs.
Gardner believes the inclusion of players such as wheelchair basketball star Harry Brown will make Halifax a far tougher proposition than the side Rhinos beat 118-35 in the league last month.
“There’s a rule that means any team can bring in any players at any point,” Gardner said. “There’s no transfer deadline or anything and there’s rumours of players flying over from France who haven’t played in England for two years, along with professional wheelchair athletes just for the final.
“It’s happened before to the team and it just doesn’t seem fair if it happens again.
“We aren’t professionals and we train once a week.
“We are a bit miffed, but we will stick with the same team that played the first game this year.
“That team is undefeated and has won the Challenge Cup, which we’ve not done before.
“I am really proud of those players and to go through the whole season unbeaten is a real aim for us.”
Gardner feels Rhinos – who were setting off from Headingley this morning – have proved their credentials, whatever happens today.
He stressed: “We have been consistent all year, it is not just about one game, it is about consistency.”
Leeds have been together as a team since the club started seven or eight years ago and have grown into the most dominant force in the Super League competition.
Their team for today’s squad includes four players – Nathan Collins, Tom Halliwell, Ryan Richardson and captain James Simpson, who are due to represent England on an Ashes tour to Australia next month.
Others in the Leeds squad are Daniel Baines, Jodie Boyd-Ward, Joshua Butler, Ewen Clibbens, Steve Sampther and Gardner.
Boyd-Ward, Butler, Collins, Halliwell and Simpson have also been selected by England for a Home Nations competition at Wrexham on September 28 and 29.