Leeds Rhinos Nostalgia: Dynamic duo Poole and Thornett turn fortunes around for the Loiners

Ken Thornett of Leeds.
Ken Thornett of Leeds.
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THINGS HAVE changed in the modern, salary cap era, but for much of Leeds’ history the club’s response to any crisis was to splash the cash.

Known as the sport’s big spenders, Leeds often bought their way out of trouble and that was the case 52 years ago.

The Loiners lost only one of their opening seven games in 1965-66, but then the wheels came off and they slumped to four successive defeats.

In response, loose-forward Harry Poole was brought in from Hull KR and Leeds re-signed Australian full-back Ken Thornett for his second spell at the club.

The duo’s arrival sparked a transformation in form and Leeds went on a run of five wins and a draw from their next seven matches.

Thornett was already a Headingley hero due to his exploits in his previous stint at Leeds, from 1960-63, which included a starring role in the club’s first Championship triumph.

He returned on a three-month contract in the Australian off-season and made 13 appearances, finishing on the losing side only three times.

One of the wins was on October 30, 1965, when Leigh were crushed 22-2 at Headingley.

Poole, who locked the scrum that afternoon, also made a big impact.

He was Leeds’ player of the year in his first season at the club and his form earned him the captaincy of Great Britain on their tour to Australia.

Born in Castleford, Poole signed for Hunslet in 1956 and turned down a move to Leeds before signing for Hull KR in January, 1961.

He played 53 times for Leeds before hanging up his boots and moving into coaching with Castleford.

Poole returned to Hull KR in 1975, but suffered a fatal heart attack after just 15 months in charge.

Centre Dick Gemmell scored a brace of tries in the win over Leigh and Allen Lockwood and Ron Cowan also crossed, with Mick Shoebottom kicking five goals.

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MATCH STATS

Leeds 22

Leigh 2

October 30, 1965

Leeds: Thornett, Cowan, Broatch, Gemmell, Wriglesworth, Shoebottom, Rollin, Clark, Lockwood, Firth, Sykes, Neumann, Poole.

Tries: Gemmell 2, Lockwood, Cowan.

Goals: Shoebottom 5.

Referee: Mick Naughton.

Jack Ormondroyd in action for Featherstone.

Leeds Rhinos and Featherstone Rovers continue dual-reg agreement