LEEDS RHINOS under-19s will go into today’s Grand Final at Wigan Warriors as underdogs but Rob Burrow reckons they deserve to be there and are capable of pulling off an upset.
Rhinos finished third in the table, three points behind league leaders Wigan, but Burrow has named an unchanged side from last week’s semi-final win at St Helens and said his team are in buoyant mood.
“We had high expectations this year,” he said. “Our goal was to win the comp’ and I don’t think we’ve over-achieved by getting to the Grand Final.
“If we can find a performance there’s no reason why we can’t win it.
“They are at home and they beat us 24-0 the last time we played them.
“The squads are similar and that’s the reason why they are favourites, but if we had taken our chances last time, we weren’t that far off.
“It was two tries in each half in a really competitive game. There were a lot of good signs, but we just didn’t finish our good bits of play.”
Burrow, who came through Leeds’ academy system two decades ago as part of the club’s golden generation, added: “I am a big believer in developing players in a winning culture.
“That was massive for me and the likes of Kev [Sinfield] and Magsy [Danny McGuire]. We were brought up as winners and I think it’s important for young kids to get used to winning.
“We wanted to be in the Grand Final and it’s a great outcome just to get into the final, but we want to go there and win it”
Rhinos have fielded a young team this season, with up to nine first year academy players in the side most weeks.
That has made it tough at times against older opponents, but Burrow said: “It bodes well for the future, regardless of the result. If we don’t win we will be disappointed, but we still recognise people have improved massively over the season.”
Leeds Rhinos under-19s: Whitton, Markland, Broadbent, Newman, Hartley, Spence, Chapman-Smith, Oledzki, Johnson, Darley, A Sutcliffe, Trout, McConnell. Subs: Whiteley, Mustapha, Holroyd, Dupree.
Kick-off: Today, 5.30pm.