Leeds Rhinos Season Preview
Ahead of the 2019 season we have contacted fans from our Super League opponents, to help to give us a steer on how they see the season going for their team.
This time we head to Headingley – Saints are there on a Thursday night in August so fingers crossed the weather is kind on the Western Terrace!
Gary Fiddes and Lawrie Lee are the Leeds fans who have taken the time to answer or questions and give their opinions on the season ahead. Our thanks to the two of them.
Gary has been watching Leeds since the mid 60’s and is a season ticket holder, whos dad was a player and a ref. He played at amateur level and has 2 sons who are mad Leeds Rhinos fans too. Lawrie is a South Stander who has been watching the Rhinos since he was 9.
Another of ‘those’ seasons for Leeds where the champions slipped into the qualifiers. Brian McDermott left the club to be replaced by Kevin Sinfield (director of rugby) and James Lowes (first team coach). The Rhinos have appointed their former forward David Furner as Head Coach for the coming season.
Did the mid-season coaching change work? Was it the right move? What do you expect your director of rugby to bring to the first team?
GF: Never a fan of McDermott due to style of play and team selections. Hopeful the next “golden generation” is imminent. Every faith in Hetherington and Sinfied and optimistic that Furner and new overseas signings will result in a much more exciting and successful team.
LL: 2018 has to be one of the most bonkers years I’ve seen the Loiners have in all the years I have watched us play (maybe just sitting behind the 1996 season).
Can you sum up the 2018 season from a Rhinos fan perspective? (Were you happy, frustrated, disappointed etc. and why)
GF: Been watching Leeds since the mid 60s. Leeds had fantastic success since 2004 so can accept the odd lean seasons recently.
LL: The coaching change midway through the season was needed for me as McDermott had appeared to lose the dressing room and the results weren’t up to scratch. The appointment of Sir Kevin Sinfield as Director of Rugby and Jimmy Lowes was an eye opener last season. Sinfield who is demigod around LS6 was always going to warm the cockles of the faithful but Lowesy is a character to say the least.
Some massive signings at the club this year (Merrin, Hurrell and Lolohea) – is the business you’ve done (including a new Head Coach) enough to propel you up the league? Is there any other position you would look to strengthen? Would you have liked to have kept anyone who has left?
GF: Every faith in Hetherington and Sinfield and optimistic that Furner and new overseas signings will result in a much more exciting and successful team.
LL: The appointment of Dave “f**king brilliant” Furner as Head Coach for 2019 could be a masterstroke at Hedders but his NRL coaching record wasn’t cracking at the Raiders so fingers crossed him and Sinfield will crack 2019. Recruitment for 2019 looks good, Merrion, Hurrell, Lolohea are our NRL recruits and could be potentially be massive for us this forthcoming season. Hurrell either at centre or second row will cause teams problems.
Who should we be looking out for in a Leeds shirt this year (and why)?
LL: Stars to look out for 2019, Jack Walker will be lethal if he can stay injury free. Kallum Watkins returning after a long injury will be like a new signing, Brad Dwyer & Parcell battling for leading hooker position will be interesting to see plus who will be our kicker? Myler, Lolohea & Watkins all have claims for the role.
Which of your young players is most likely to break into the first team this year?
GF: Breakthrough for Jack Walker, Cameron Smith and Oledzki this season hopefully.
LL: New young stars for Leeds Mikolaj Oledzki, could be a big year for big Mick. Played when we were desperate last year but the young lad could be useful for our pack. Cameron Smith, a loose forward, who has had first team experience last year but could well have more game time in 2019. Harry Newman, a centre who had a staring role for England Academy against Australian Schoolboys in the Autumn could make an impact in 2019 if he gets a chance
The Super 8’s have gone and the top 4 play offs have been replaced with the top 5, theoretically giving the top place team a better chance of reaching the Grand Final – are you in favour of the changes?
GF: Like the rule changes that should speed up the game but not a fan of Golden Point. Don’t know why the play off system has to change again, should have given previous ideas time.
LL: 2019 competition changes are a bit disappointing. Something strangely enjoyable in going to middle 8 games knowing each one was important and that will be greatly missed (Halifax Away is a cracking day out!) The new format is ‘so so’ and Anfield Magic won’t have a patch on Newcastle for a decent weekend so that’s gutting but otherwise let’s see how it goes!
How do you think the Rhinos will go in 2019? (Where will they finish, Cup run etc)
GF: Expect Saints (and Leeds) to be contesting for all honours.
LL: Leeds Rhinos chances in 2019?? Mid table, possible top 4 but should be better than 2018. A Challenge Cup run would be nice, think a Semi Final is likely destination
How do you think the Saints will go in 2019? (Where will they finish, Cup run etc) Which player are you most worried about when we face each other?
GF: Always admired Saints and like Holbrook a lot. Don’t think losing Barba will be too much of a problem. Big fan of Makinson and Percival and having Walmsley back is a bonus. Not sure whether Richardson will maintain his efforts.
LL: St Helens could be there or thereabouts in 2019. Naiqama is a mega signing and Coote could well be a MOS contender if starts to dominate games. Saints are my tip for Challenge Cup glory in 2019
Top 5: (in no particular order) Wigan, Saints, Leeds, Hull KR !!!!, Warrington.
Grand Final: Leeds v Saints (again).
Challenge Cup: Hull KR.
Man of Steel: Konrad Hurrell.
Best Stadium: Headingley. But what do I know.
Top 5: Saints Wigan Wire Catalans Leeds
Grand Final Winners: Wigan/Saints can’t pick!
Challenge Cup: Saints
MOS: Tough one, Coote maybe