Shaun Lunt: It feels like I’ve never been away from Leeds Rhinos, despite the seven-year hiatus

Shaun Lunt celebrates during the 2012 Grand Final.
Shaun Lunt celebrates during the 2012 Grand Final.
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I am loving being back at the Rhinos and, honestly, it feels like I was never away.

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I was here on loan in 2012 and, to me, it feels like the club hasn’t changed since then.

I’ve been welcomed with open arms by everyone, players, staff and fans.

Some of the personnel are different, but the club is just as it was seven years ago and the expectations of you as a player are exactly the same.

It’s good seeing familiar faces like Kev Sinfield, Jamie Peacock, Rob Burrow and Jonny Wainhouse around the place and a lot of the office staff are the same as the last time I was here so that has really helped me settle in.

One thing that has changed, though, is the stadium. I did some of the corporate boxes at the Catalans game a couple of weeks ago and the facilities are second to none.

What I like about it is they’ve brought the stadium up to date, but kept the same old Headingley atmosphere.

Sometimes when you go to a new stadium that gets taken away, but Headingley is still a real rugby league ground and a fantastic place to play.

I know things aren’t going as well on the field for us as they were seven years ago, but that will come good and I am really happy to be back.

All I need to do now is play! I was meant to make my debut against Catalans, but I rolled my ankle at training a few days before.

It has been a frustrating couple of weeks.

I couldn’t believe it when it happened and I think if it wasn’t for bad luck I would have no luck at all, but I am fit now and fingers crossed I get the nod this week.

I have been working hard with the medical staff, who have been fantastic and I will do my best when I get the nod. It’s a surreal situation for me this week because I spent five great years at Hull KR and I have got plenty of mates there.

But I am Leeds Rhinos now, I want us to win and I’ll be doing everything I can to help make sure we do.

Any other week, I’ll be wanting Hull KR to win, but my loyalties are with this club now.

There is a lot riding on tomorrow night, but there’s still plenty of games to go in the season and I don’t think it is make or break.

A few other teams are also in the mix, including another one of my old sides, Huddersfield.

I don’t know whether it’s me, but every club I’ve been at seems to be struggling at the moment!

It is close though. Everyone thought London Broncos were going to roll over this year, but they haven’t and full credit to them. They have been fantastic all season and, whatever happens over the next couple of months, to win seven games is a good effort by a promoted team.

Having seen Leeds from the outside and now being in the camp I am 100 per cent sure we are heading in the right direction.

We’ve made improvements over the two weeks I have been here and everyone saw last week how much better our defence has become.

If we can continue to get better week-in and week-out we will be fine.

Finally, well done to the Rhinos women’s team for reaching their Challenge Cup final.

Adam Cuthbertson has done a wonderful job as coach and I would like to wish them all the best for the final against Cas at the end of the month.