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Exclusive: Ex-Leeds Rhinos star opens up on “shock” Head Coach switch during Golden Generation

Matt Adamson for Leeds Rhinos

In 2003, it was clear that Leeds Rhinos were heading towards success on the eve of the Golden Generation.

The likes of Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield were making their names and there were some talented senior players like David Furner, Keith Senior and Matt Adamson.

They made the Challenge Cup Final and finished just behind Bradford Bulls in the league under Daryl Powell.

So after that, it was a shock to see Tony Smith replace Powell in the hot seat.

The original plan was for Powell to act as Director of Rugby until 2007 when he would replace Smith but this never happened as he left for a new challenge and Smith enjoyed huge success.

Now, speaking exclusively to Serious About Rugby League, Matt Adamson he has opened up on what was a shocking decision for the aging group.

“I remember it being a bit of a shock. Gary explained why we were going down that path. It was a bold move and to be fair to Gary, and to the maturity of the playing group, we backed the decision,” he said.

“It was disappointing for Powell after a good year in 2003, we should have made the Grand Final, but that was the strength of the playing group that we backed the decision and got behind Tony.

“He came in and he brought things to our attention that could improve our days, skill levels that I was like ‘why didn’t any one else teach us that.

“His brother Brian was an innovator in how to grip the ball and it’s still overlooked in our game 20 years on, even in the NRL and Super League when players are holding the ball incorrectly. It’s not drilled into the players like it was into us.”

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