Whilst 2023 has been fruitful for Wigan Warriors and Leigh Leopards among others, Leeds Rhinos, Hull FC, Huddersfield Giants and others will feel like they have let themselves down this season.
Hull FC had hype after a brand new spine was drafted in whilst Huddersfield Giants had finished third in 2022 and brought in some huge names.
Leeds meanwhile were Grand Finalists a year ago but have now been named as “the biggest flop” of 2023 by Jon Wilkin on Sky Sports.
He said: “Hull FC promised so much and looked like they might deliver and they have flopped.
“Huddersfield have too. Ken Davy said that this was the best squad they had ever had and everyone was looking at them about Jake Connor’s influence, but they have flopped.
“The biggest flop in Super League is Leeds Rhinos for a number of reasons. Brian McDermott was sacked as coach after a successful period and the culture was branded as toxic and needed to change.
“My question is this? Where is their culture now? They have limped out of the play offs and were absolutely battered.
“Their recruitment has been shambolic. If you are talking about a toxic culture back then, then how would you describe it now?
“Your best player is playing for Castleford, your best young player has left because you wouldn’t pay him enough money
“Bizarre and then you go onto Warrington who could well be the story because of how well they started.
“They tried to short cut to a win against Salford.”
Leeds lost 50-0 to Wigan last week.
The opening exchanges were scrappy but the highlight saw Kai Pearce-Paul break free however just five yards out the second rower slipped and he fell short of the line.
Jack Sinfield played for a big hit on Pearce-Paul with the ball eventually being dropped. Harry Newman scooped up and ran through but Sinfield was adjudged to have knocked on in the tackle, Leeds earning a penalty rather than the opening four points.
Leeds squandered territory before indiscipline granted it to Wigan and a Harry Smith kick was claimed brilliantly by Jake Wardle who outjumped Rhyse Martin to collect and ground, opening the scoring.
Just after the 20th minute Harry Smith played an almost identical kick to the one that saw Jake Wardle score, but the ball was spilled by the Leeds defender under pressure from Liam Farrell and Jai Field was quickest to pounce and score.
Leeds continued to look flat with the game almost exclusively played in their half and a sharp move on the left hand side saw Liam Marshall played in to ground and stretch the game to 16-0, Harry Smith’s kick striking the post.
Jake Wardle is in a rich vein of form and he made the most of it this afternoon with yet another quick move against Leeds’ right hand side of defence, French to Field and then on to Wardle who dived over to make it 22-0 minutes before the half.
It was already a tough ask for Leeds but conceding a minute into the second half didn’t help at all. Luke Hooley’s kick was charged down, Morgan Smithies ran and scooped it up and was supported by KPP who ran it in from 30 metres out to effectively end Leeds’ season.
With Leeds languishing they needed some passion but they got it in the form of Harry Newman retaliating to a Tyler Dupree shove. The penalty had been given for Dupree’s involvement at the play the ball, but Newman could count himself lucky not to see punishment for throttling Dupree in reaction.
After claiming a high bomb from Harry Smith on his own line, Luke Hooley then kicked on the fifth and nailed a 40/20 bang towards the corner granting Leeds great territory only to waste it – a summary of their season.
Jake Wardle can’t stop scoring. The centre received the ball 20 metres out and shaping to play in Liam Marshall carved out a gap for him to dart through and score his first ever career hattrick.