Leeds Rhinos: YEP Jury give their verdicts

Zak Hardaker.
Zak Hardaker.
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Our YEP Jury look back on the defeat to Catalans Dragons and Zak Hardaker’s decision to hand in a transfer request.


Catalans inflicted the sixth successive league defeat this season which officially makes this the worst run, by Leeds, since Super League began.

Although the Rhinos competed for the full 80 minutes the score line was flattering and Catalan Dragons just did not take their opportunities. Many of the Leeds players looked completely shattered at 70 minutes which raises questions about fitness.

Coming on the back of the defeat was the news that Zak Hardaker has been ‘put on the transfer list’. Why would arguably the best player in Super League in 2015 want to leave one of the biggest Super League clubs, who took him as a fast, but skinny teenager and guided him into the best player he could be?

A club that stood by him and supported him through some very difficult times over the last few years. I believe that there must be issues off the pitch for Leeds to be in this position.

I know that officially the ‘treble winners’ have categorically denied any split in the team or back room issues but something is wrong and no matter how hard it may be for individuals at the Rhinos, the real reason Leeds are in this situation needs to be addressed.

Many times this season the team, on paper, have been good enough to not only compete but win many games but they have just not performed to their own individual capabilities or that of the whole, and the fans deserve to know why.

I believe that in life we all have to make decisions, and these fall into just two categories. Decisions are either comfortable or courageous – but no decision can be both. Leeds, and each Rhinos player, must stand up and take some really courageous decisions in the next few weeks.

Perhaps when we look back, the Hardaker decision, by him and the club, will be seen as courageous rather than comfortable – I hope so. Perhaps it will release money in the cap to buy a player, or players, that will turn the club’s fortunes around. Only time will tell but as a true Rhinos supporter I want to stand proud of Leeds whereas at the moment I feel disillusioned.


It was another disappointing loss against Catalans Dragons last Friday, however there are some positives to take from that.

We didn’t quit in the second half like we have in the previous four games.

Mitch Garbutt was outstanding and caused plenty of problems up the middle. It was great to see Joel Moon back who will improve our attack in the upcoming weeks. If we show that effort once the middle-eights come around then we won’t go down.

Unlike the coaches who get a fine for any negative talk about the referee’s performance I won’t, so here goes. Ben Thaler in the past two weeks has had two horrific games recently in my opinion.

Missing a clear knock on at the play the ball for Catalans’ third try was shocking and he didn’t allow the free play rule when Catalans scored in the final minutes after they knocked on first – a shame because he was streets ahead of the others last season.

I am very disappointed with Zak Hardaker handing in a transfer request mid-season. I find that very poorly timed and after the support the club has given him for previous indiscretions, I find it very insulting.

Every week I want to see 17 lads in blue and amber to be committed and show 100 per cent effort, not to leave when the going isn’t good.


Last week’s loss to Catalans further compounded Leeds’ dire season and with the loss of Zak Hardaker, things are looking bleak for the current champions.

Leeds performed valiantly against Catalans, and although the Dragons never appeared to get out of first gear, a lot of players can be proud of their performances; Garbutt ran his blood to water. The effort of the Leeds players cannot be faulted – they look to be trying too hard in most situations, leading to far too many mistakes being made. A victory against Salford tomorrow may provide a much-needed spark in our team, although Salford have won double the games Leeds have it isn’t inconceivable to see a Rhinos victory if they can improve their performance again this week.


We showed plenty of improvement last Friday, especially in defence, and I thought we were unlucky not to steal a point, but too much dropped ball in the first half cost us. Plenty to build on before Salford, but a step in the right direction. Dare I say this could be where we turn it around?


Despite the harsh 12-point defeat, there’s lots of positives to take from the loss to Catalans.

Mitch Garbutt was simply outstanding – threw himself and the kitchen sink at everything – we need lots more performances like that from our forwards.

There was such an improvement in defence – at times it looked like Catalans were going to cruise to the two points, but Leeds stood firm and kept in the game until the last second. Nonetheless, Leeds’ lack of cutting edge in attack and ideas on the fifth tackle proved costly at certain points once again.

The return of Joel Moon did help, but not enough.

It’s frustrating that some things clearly aren’t improving.

Salford at home this week - the losing run may end, who knows?


Score first get beaten seems to be Rhinos way at the moment. The return of Joel Moon and Beau Falloon in the team made us look structurally better, especially in defence. However composure when attacking and on last tackle plays is letting us down. The news about Zak Hardaker is now the biggest talking point!