The YEP jury have their say ahead of Leeds Rhinos new Super League season.
2013 wasn’t the best year for Leeds Rhinos in terms of success, but for consistency throughout the season it was the best we have had in quite a while.
In 2014, we will see young prospects like Liam Sutcliffe and Elliott Minchella getting more game time at the club, as well as the young lads out on loan at Wakefield Wildcats and London Broncos gaining game time on a weekly basis, which will be very good for their overall development.
With the addition of Tom Briscoe, Leeds have got arguably the best backline in Super League, with a massive battle between him and Ben Jones-Bishop for the second wing spot. You would expect plenty of tries from this backline.
Acquiring a hooker was essential to Brian McDermott’s plans for the new season, and he got that when signing Paul Aiton from Wakefield Wildcats. Aiton, who won three awards for player of the year at Wakefield last season, should be a massive boost to the club and the fans, and teaming up with Rob Burrow, both with speed and agility, could be a big threat, if used correctly.
I am looking forward to seeing if we can blood some more youngsters in the squad, like Rob Mulhern, who travelled with the first-team squad to Portugal for pre-season.
I think I speak for most Leeds Rhinos fans by saying that they want to see Leeds pick up the Challenge Cup in 2014. It has been far too long since our last Challenge Cup final win. We have been very close in recent years, but not close enough to pick up the trophy.
I’m predicting that Leeds Rhinos will be in third place come the end of the season play-off campaign, with what I hope is a Challenge Cup win. The team I think we all should be looking at to do well this season is St Helens, they have recruited well and I think they are the team for us all to beat. The team I fear for is Bradford Bulls, they have had a disappointing pre-season and look to be in a fight for relegation.
It looks as though Hull Kingston Rovers away on Sunday is going to be packed to the rafters, with Leeds selling out their allocation in the new North Stand and having to request more tickets allocated in the West Stand Well.
I cannot wait to attend the game and I am hoping that the lads can start the season off with a bang and bring home the two points. I look forward to seeing you all throughout the season and cheering the lads on proudly.
Bring on 2014, come on the Rhinos!
My expectations are very high after the Ryan Bailey testimonial.
Danny McGuire was back to his best, Tom Briscoe slotted in effortlessly and when BJB came off the bench,he showed what a good squad we have. Keep injury free, and we should be top-two and in with a shout for all silverware.
After the disappointment of finishing last season without a trophy – or a final appearance – the hope is that this year coach Brian McDermott can get the best out of the most exciting backline in Super League, an experienced pack and some talented up-and-coming youngsters.
The acquisition of Paul Aiton, hopefully means Leeds will see some consistency around the ruck and an experienced hooker playing in his natural position will mean a better structured attack in 2014.
The potential for Leeds to top the table at the end of the season and win another grand final is indisputable, but a better structured and tactically aware approach is needed to realise that potential.
The Rhinos will be looking to get back among the silverware this year after a disappointing season in 2013, which ended without even reaching a final.
Tom Briscoe and Paul Aiton bring with them a lot of experience and certainly add competition for places which may have been lacking in previous seasons.
Like every Leeds Rhinos supporter at this time of the year I dream we will finish top of the league – and win both the Challenge Cup final and the Grand Final.
How realistic is this? Well, hopefully this will be the season when we break the Challenge Cup hoodoo and bring the trophy back to Headingley after 15 years.
The squad is looking good and we have a very strong back line.
We should finish in the top-four once again and as we know from past experience after that anything can happen.
Hopefully the squad can be managed well and we will have at least one piece of silverware to celebrate at the end of the season.