After 32 years of hurts, 32 years of being rugby league’s nearly men, in 2004 Ryan Bailey and a group of golden young talent brought through the Leeds Rhinos academy finally made the West Yorkshire club Champions again.
They would then go on to achieve a period of dominance no one believed could be sustained in a salary cap sport. All of this was built on the back of that core of players.
Over time, players left and new stars emerged but by 2017 Leeds were winning an eighth Super League title with players who were there for the first in the shape of Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow and Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
By then Ryan Bailey had long since left Leeds spending time at Hull KR, Warrington and Castleford before retiring but he’ll always be remembered for the role he played in Leeds’ success. A starter in the 2004 and 2012 Grand Finals, in total he won six with the Rhinos which is the joint fourth most by any player.
But Leeds are now in a new position. Having been the nearly men, then the Champions, they are now a side scrambling to return to the top. Since 2017, Leeds have not finished in the top four and have only won one trophy. They’ve also yet to return to the Theatre of Dreams and play in a Grand Final.
After flirting with relegation immediately after 2017, Leeds were forced to bring in Richard Agar to steady the ship and he did just that stabilising things over 2020 and 2021. But 2022 was supposed to be different, Leeds were set to compete again after some exciting recruitment.
Instead, they are starring down the barrel of a relegation scrap after five defeats from six and questions are now being asked of coach Agar as things dramatically stall for Super League’s once super club.
Everyone seems to have their say on it, but what about those players who enjoyed such success at the club who have watched from the outside as Leeds try to get back to where they once were?
Well Ryan Bailey has now had his say on Twitter and it was certainly a bold statement from the former prop.
He said: “Agar needs to go we need rhinos back on the map .. real talk.”
Agar needs to go we need rhinos back on the map .. real talk
— RYAN BAILEY (@BAILS168) March 19, 2022
So Bailey believes Agar needs to go, but what would that mean for Leeds’ recruitment. Leeds are already planning on bringing in a new coach so that Agar can become Director of Rugby, would this dismantle Leeds’ plans all together?
Certainly a tricky time for the Rhinos and it gets no easier with Castleford waiting in the cup before a visit from the Champions St Helens to begin April.