YEP Jury: St Helens was a game too far but the future looks bright for Leeds Rhinos

Our panel of fans give their final verdict on Leeds Rhinos’ 2021 campaign and look forward to next season.

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 4:30 pm
Matt Prior and Ash Handley show their frustration after Leeds Rhinos' Super League semi-final defeat to St Helens. Picture: Steve Riding.

KATIE BURROWS

Friday night was a game too far for us and, whilst I thought the scoreline was possibly a little unfair, the result was to be expected.

A St Helens and Catalans final is really a fitting end to this season – they’ve been the best two teams in the competition by a long margin, and if their match at Magic Weekend is anything to go by, then we’re definitely in for an entertaining game.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Leeds Rhinos head coach Richard Agar and assistant Sean Long watch on at St Helens. Picture: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.

Looking back to April – where we failed to win a game – despite my optimism, I don’t think I actually expected us to get anywhere near the semi-final. Bearing in mind all the disruptions and injuries we experienced, it wasn’t a bad season all in all. I’m already looking forward to next season – it’ll be great to watch our younger players such as Sam Walters, Corey Johnson and Morgan Gannon continue to develop. We’ve also made some exciting signings, hopefully with a couple more to come, so it’ll be interesting to see the impact they have in 2022.

Last but not least, good luck to the Leeds Rhinos Women’s team, as they look to retain the Super League title against St Helens on Sunday.

MATT FOWLER

Another disrupted, messy season is over and again it has been a rollercoaster at the Rhinos and for rugby league in general.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 01/10/2021 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League Semi Final - St Helens v Leeds Rhinos - The Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens, England - Leeds's Harry Newman dejected after his side's loss to St Helens.

For the Rhinos, we have seen an improvement in terms of team spirit and a determination to defend for each other.

The injury situation has been catastrophic and that is one area we need to look at. Are our training methods affecting the players or is it simply bad luck and the quite frankly, horrific fixture schedule forced on to the team?

That injury list, especially to our play makers, has been a key factor in our league position. Some will say we have done well to finish fifth, but we are Leeds and expectations need to be higher, regardless of injuries.

The younger players have done themselves proud and we have some real stars in our team with Harry Newman and Morgan Gannon the pick of the new crop.

Leeds Rhinos fans at St Helens. Picture: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.

Going forward, the additions of James Bentley, Blake Austin and Aiden Sezer are shrewd business and certainly strengthens the squad. A big powerful forward and speedy winger would put the cherry on the cake for next season. Looking forward to it already.

CHRISTINE KIDD

No trip to Old Trafford for Leeds Rhinos this year, which is disappointing but not a surprise. St Helens were the better team and deservedly won the semi-final last Friday.

This season has been a big learning curve for the coaches and players. They have had to deal with Covid, injuries (some season-ending) and numerous suspensions. This means that young players like Jarrod O’Connor, Sam Walters and Morgan Gannon have been on the field more than they would have thought at the start of the season.

All three will have learned from this year and will be better players next season.

Senior players have had to step up and play out of position on many occasions due to injuries and suspensions.

Kruise Leeming has been in the halves as often as he has played hooker. Rob Lui and Konrad Hurrell have played their last game at Rhinos but both have played their part in the Rhinos story.

Leeds are slowly building but they are still in transition. It could be another couple of seasons before they visit Old Trafford again but the future is looking very bright.

IAN SHARP

So close, but maybe it was a step too far for this year with all the distribution and injuries to key players.

I think 80 minutes from Old Trafford is not a bad season and I’m proud of all the players.

Saying that, we have been well off the mark against the big teams and looked devoid of ideas at times in attack this year.

I hope the boys have a good few weeks in the sun, then keep the surgeons busy getting niggles fixed up so they are ready to go full on and be in the top four as a minimum for the 2022 season.

We have picked up a few good signings for next year but we need to be making sure all the squad are fit for the start of the season and not struggling to make it with a few weeks to go.

Also, I think it’s time for head coach Richard Agar to head off upstairs.

He’s done a job in getting the team heading in the right direction, but I don’t think he’s the man to take us forward from here.

Roll on Boxing Day, so it’s goodnight from me, and it’s goodnight from him.

ADAM ANDERSON

We all knew that we would need to be at our best to beat St Helens in the semi-final, but it wasn’t to be.

There were a number of disappointing performances throughout, but ultimately it was a bridge too far for our lads.

This season has been full of ups and downs. We haven’t had any consistency in our squad and the half-back situation has been arguably the worst in Super League.

We can all now look forward to 2022, with Aiden Sezer, Blake Austin and James Bentley coming in, Luke Gale and Jack Walker back to full fitness, as well as Morgan Gannon, Jarrod O’Connor, Sam Walters and others getting a big pre-season behind them.

We still have some business to take care of, and for me I hope that we bring in another forward and a utility back.

Good luck to the Rhinos women this weekend in the final against St Helens. We will all be there supporting you until the end.

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe