According to former Leeds Rhinos star Matt Adamson he “loves Leeds more than any club in the world other than Manchester United.”
A strange statement from a Leeds Rhinos star but the Australian always had a love for Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side prior to foster a love for Leeds Rhinos after moving to Headingley in 2002.
Then in 2003, Adamson was able to mix these two loves together as he arranged a meeting with Ferguson as the Rhinos squad visited Manchester United’s training ground.
Of course, 2003 was the year before Leeds Rhinos finally ended their 32-year wait for a title as they began their golden generation in 2004.
Speaking exclusively to Serious About Rugby League, Adamson reflected on the day the Leeds squad visited Manchester United and how it helped in form the standards and ideas behind Leeds’ eventual success.
“I wrote a letter to Sir Alex Ferguson to go down to meet them but didn’t tell anyone,” Adamson said, “I just went to Daryl Powell and to Gary Hetherington and said I wanted to let the boys see those high standards of the likes of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes built into their club.
“We got a bus, told all the boys we were taking them go-karting down in Manchester. Three-quarters of the way, Barrie McDermott and co smelt a rat saying ‘there’s go-karting tracks a lot closer.’
“When we got closer, I got up and announced that we were going to Manchester United, and the boys went nuts. It was phenomenal day to go see the best club in the world at the time and we got to rub shoulders with them.
“We met Fergie and he spoke to the playing group and it was just a great experience. It played a part in our club understanding that high standards are so important in sport and are sometimes overlooked, because it’s not just on the field, it’s on the training ground and even in the boardroom.
“I also remember that we identified the importance of a strong squad and the need for high standards not just in the starting team but the next man up.”
So, plenty of the lessons learnt that day went on to form the back bone of Leeds’ eventual success especially the comments about squad depth.
In 2004, Leeds added the likes of Marcus Bai and Ali Lauiti’iti to the squad adding more quality and depth to an already settled squad.