INCOMING BOSS Dave Furner will be the third man to both play for and coach Leeds Rhinos in Super League.
The first was Dean Bell who had a season as a player with Leeds in 1983-84 and returned to the club as coach in 1996, playing once in a relegation battle against Paris St Germain.
Daryl Powell made 79 Super League appearances for Rhinos from 1998-2000. He played in the inaugural Grand Final in his first season and was a Challenge Cup winner the following year. He took over as coach midway through 2001 and was in charge until the end of 2003. Furner played under Powell in 2003 and hung up his boots at the end of the following campaign. The Australian’s final game as a player was the 2004 Super League Grand Final, 14 years ago tomorrow.
Rhinos went into the Old Trafford showdown with reigning champions Bradford Bulls as league leaders, but it was 32 years since their previous championship triumph.
Furner was the only member of the 2004 side alive when Leeds last won the title in May, 1972. He had brought experience and leadership to the team in 2003 and was a key part of their success the following season.
In the jubilant winners’ changing room, Furner made an emotional speech praising Rhinos’ young side and revealing the prospect of helping them achieve their first silverware had convinced him to play on at the end of 2003.
The 2004 Grand Final wasn’t the most spectacular of Leeds’ eight Old Trafford victories, but for die-hard fans it was arguably the most satisfying.
The four tries were shared, but Kevin Sinfield’s four goals from as many attempts made the difference. A Sinfield penalty opened the scoring, but Lesley Vainikolo’s unconverted touchdown gave Bulls the lead.
Man-of-the-match Matt Diskin went over for Leeds and Sinfield kicked the conversion plus another penalty to make it 10-4 at half-time.
Shontayne Hape scored Bulls’ second try soon after the break and the game was in the balance until the 75th minute when Robbie Paul’s knock-on near his own line led to a scrum from which Danny McGuire swooped over and Sinfield’s conversion completed the 16-8 victory.
Leeds Rhinos 16 (Tries: Diskin, McGuire. Goals: Sinfield 4)
Bradford Bulls 8 (Tries: Vainikolo, Hape)
October 16, 2004, Super League Grand Final
Leeds Rhinos: Mathers, Calderwood, Walker, Senior, Bai, Sinfield, McGuire, Ward, Diskin, Bailey, McKenna, Lauitiiti, Furner. Subs: Burrow, McDermott, Poching, Jones-Buchanan.
Bradford Bulls: Withers, Reardon, Johnson, Hape, Vainikolo, Harris, Deacon, Vagana, Paul, Fielden, Peacock, Swann, Radford. Subs: Langley, Pratt, Anderson, Parker.
Referee: Steve Ganson.
ON THIS DAY
Leeds Rhinos’ reign as champions ended 13 years ago today when they were beaten 15-6 by Bradford Bulls in the Grand Final. Danny McGuire scored Leeds’ only try, converted by Kevin Sinfield.
Leeds booked a place in the inaugural Grand Final with a 44-16 win over St Helens in a final eliminator on October 18. Francis Cummins, pictured above, scored a hat-trick, Leroy Rivett bagged a brace and Marc Glanville and Brad Gidden also crossed with Iestyn Harris adding eight goals.
Leeds faced a full-strength New Zealand side in a tour match at Headingley on this day in 1989. Two Colin Maskill penalties produced their points in a 34-4 defeat.
Forty two years ago tomorrow Leeds retained the Yorkshire Cup with a 16-12 win over Featherstone Rovers at Headingley. Man of the match Les Dyl scored two tries, Phil Cookson and Graham Eccles got Leeds’ others and David Marshall added two goals.
Zak Hardaker: Former Rhinos full-back Hardaker celebrates his 27th birthday on Wednesday.