Leeds Rhinos YEP jury: Optimism high for Super League 2020 after glimpse against Warrington Wolves of ‘what might have been’

Our Yorkshire Evening Post fans’ jury is in agreement – Leeds Rhinos’ 2019 Super League season was not what they expected and was not up to the standards they have come to expect of the Emerald Headingley club in the game’s modern era.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 18:29 pm
Retiring Leeds Rhinos legend, Jamie Jones-Buchanan. PIC: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia

However, the result and, perhaps, more importantly, the performance against this year’s Challenge Cup winners, Warrington Wolves, brought the curtain down on the campaign with renewed optimism for next season.

Here’s what they have to say:

Andrew Sutcliffe

Leeds Rhinos head coach, Richard Agar, and director of rugby, Kevin Sinfield. PIC: Simon Hulme/JPIMedia

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So, the curtain came down on the season with a good win against a lacklustre Warrington team.

Was this a glimpse of what this evolved team is capable of? The late additions to the squad have definitely improved Leeds and, hopefully, there’ll be a few more in the off-season to really strengthen the team.

It was a fitting send-off for JJB with a big crowd and a cheeky conversion! Mr Leeds will be missed and it was a shame Carl Ablett couldn’t join him on the field one last time.

Another poor season and not being involved in the play-offs is not good enough for Leeds, and significant improvements are needed next year.

Leeds Rhinos' rising star, Callum McLelland, representing England against the Australian Schoolboys. PIC: Paul Butterfield

Having Richard Agar in post already has to be a positive in terms of continuity and he knows what we are missing in order to have us completing again.

There have been some positive parts of the season, including the young players getting plenty of game time which will only help in the long term.

We also have a brilliantly renovated ground and immaculate pitch; just need the team now!

Thomas Lawrence

Well that’s another season done, and another underwhelming one at that.

However, things look bright going into 2020 after a positive end to 2019. Friday’s victory over Warrington was an impressive display against a team who did have it all to play for but, as a result of Leeds’ masterful performance, the Wolves avoided a top-three place which, in the play-offs, allows a loss.

Going forward, if we can address a few areas in the squad by strengthening through the winter, then I am certain we will be in and amongst the play-off places again.

Some are sceptical over Richard Agar’s appointment but, given the improvements this season, I think he certainly deserves the chance and, as well as that, he clearly has the respect of the squad and Kevin Sinfield.

His previous coaching track record may not be good, but I always think back to 2011 when Brian McDermott (who had never won anything as a head coach) returned to the club to be Brian McClennan’s assistant and ended up getting the top job going and coaching us through our most successful period of years.

Let’s hope for a similar effect here!

Tim Nuttall

The final line was drawn under the Rhinos’ golden generation with the last appearance of JJB and saying farewell to Carl Ablett, both of whom have played major contributions to the club’s success in the modern era.

I would imagine there will be a role for both of them at the club and their impression will take on a different slant.

It was good that the team were able to sign off the season with a good win over Warrington.

However bad they were on the night, the attitude and commitment of the boys was good to see.

We can’t get away from the fact it has been a poor season; certainly to be steering clear of relegation is hardly something to pop a cork over.

But we are still in Super League and I do believe we have a very good playing roster and some excellent young prospects.

But, a lot of hard work is needed if we are to turn back into play-off/grand-final contenders.

Here is hoping for a straightforward close season – and a better 2020!

Katie Burrows

And just like that the season is over. While 2019 will go down as one of our most disappointing seasons in recent years, Friday’s result has given me hope for 2020.

We were fairly well disciplined and managed to keep Warrington to just four points, despite having to defend for long periods.

I’m sure having no real pressure on us made things easier, but it was nice to see we’re capable of such a strong performance.

It’ll be interesting to see which players won’t be returning for 2020, as I feel like the club have been relatively quiet on this front.

It sounds like Brett Ferres will stay for another year and, for me, Richie Myler deserves a new contract, providing we recruit a proper stand-off on a long-term deal to work with him.

I was really pleased that James Donaldson is staying with the club; he’s been a great addition to the team and is definitely deserving of a place next year.

Now time for me to enjoy the play-offs, without worrying about the results for a change!

Oliver Hawkhead

Friday night was a good finish to a poor season.

The result was convincing against a good Warrington team and the nature of the victory was pleasing in contrast to the majority of the season.

As old Rhinos veterans leave, new ones take their place. I was very impressed with Corey Johnson’s debut; he didn’t look out of place on the field.

I hope this season marks the end of the transition and the end of survival struggles.

The team we have now definitely should be competing with the top teams and head coach Richard Agar could still be the man to lead the team.

I trust in the club’s judgement to appoint him and he seems to have the respect of the squad. This season has proved how hard it is for promoted teams to stay up but, nevertheless, London Broncos have provided some great entertainment this year.

Our moto for next season is ‘Rise’ and this will be the expectation for this club going into 2020.

The 2019 Super League season has tested us as fans, however we will always be Marching on Together.

Luke Crossfield

That was a very pleasing performance to end the season.

We looked very strong in defence and our attack showed a lot of promise. And Jamie Jones-Buchanan got to score his only conversion in his last game.

Robert Lui and Richie Myler were miles better than the Warrington half-backs. And a mention for Luke Briscoe who had a brilliant game, especially the try-saver on Tom Lineham.

Warrington need to be miles better if they are to get to the Grand Final. At this moment, I can only see St Helens, Wigan and Salford with a good chance of going to Old Trafford.

This season has not been a good one but to finish on a positive points difference after the start we had is unbelievable.

Jack Walker and Harry Newman showed lots of promise. Our fringe players who played for Featherstone all had good games against Leigh; Callum McLelland was the best of them.

Congratulations to Ash Handley and Konrad Hurrell on their Super League Dream Team selection.

Hopefully, on the back of this, Ash goes on the Lions tour.