Despite their recent struggles, Leeds Rhinos are still the most successful Super League club of the last decade.
This is owed mostly to the first half of the last 10 years, when their golden generation dominated and made history by winning the treble in 2015.
Throughout the whole decade a number of legendary names have pulled on the famous blue and amber, helping the club achieve greatness.
So, after much thought and deliberation, I have picked a Leeds Rhinos Team of the Decade.
Here are my choices…
Full-back – Zak Hardaker
Zak Hardaker was easily the Rhinos most successful full-back in the 2010s. Despite his problems off the pitch, he produced some of his greatest career rugby in this period and won the 2015 Man of Steel award. Part of the all-conquering treble-winners of 2015, Hardaker was the rock at the back and was at the peak of his powers wearing blue and amber.
Wingers – Tom Briscoe & Ryan Hall
Tom Briscoe joined in 2014 and has since managed two Challenge Cups and as many Grand Final wins. His crowning moment for the Rhinos is undoubtedly his five tries in the 2015 Challenge Cup final, a Wembley record for him personally as well as his team, who defeated Hull KR 50-0. Briscoe has had his ups and down at Headingley, but averages a try every other game and deserves his place in this team.
On the other wing we have powerhouse winger Ryan Hall. He made up to 300 appearances for the club and was a regular international during his time at Leeds. Hall was a try-machine for the Rhinos and impossible to stop close to the line, highlighted by his double in the 2014 Challenge Cup final as he picked up the Lance Todd trophy. Rated highly on both sides of the world, Hall scored 231 tries in blue and amber as well as 36 tries in 38 games for England.
Centres – Kallum Watkins & Joel Moon
Kallum Watkins made over 200 appearances for the club and knew his way to the try line, scoring over 100 tries. His right-side partnership with Briscoe proved devastating, often creating the openings with his mesmeric quick feet. There was a period of time where you could argue that Watkins was the best centre in the world and but for an ankle tap, he could have helped score the try that won England a World Cup in Australia.
In the other centre position we have Joel Moon. After joining the club from Salford, Moon proved to be an excellent bit of business as he added a new dimension to an already world-class team. Unpredictable with the ball, the Australian could create something out of nothing which was probably why he was moved to the halves in his final few seasons. In his six years at Headingley, Moon won five trophies and proved a great asset.
Stand-off – Danny McGuire
Super League’s all-time leading try-scorer Danny McGuire takes his place at stand-off. Like the rest of the golden generation, McGuire was able to win every domestic honour in the game multiple times playing for the Rhinos. The 37-year-old recently retired following a two-year stint with Hull KR, but his time at Leeds will live long in the memory, especially after ending it with a Harry Sunderland trophy, winning the 2017 Grand Final in his final game. Scoring over 240 tries and winning an unrivalled number of personal honours, McGuire will go down as one of the greatest players Leeds RLFC history after a trophy-laden career with his hometown club.
Scrum-half – Rob Burrow
Beep beep! Out of the way everyone, the road-runner Rob Burrow completes the back line. Much like McGuire, Burrow has legendary status at Headingley and with good reason, making approximately 429 appearances in Super League, scoring 168 tries and slotting over 131 goals. A fan’s favourite, the little speedster was pound-for-pound the toughest player in the competition, tackling men twice his size on a weekly basis, but that didn’t stop his attacking threat, constantly tormenting the opposition from both half-back and hooker. His try in the 2011 Grand Final is a moment that best defines the career of Rob Burrow, proving impossible to stop for the most part.
Props – Kylie Leuluai & Jamie Peacock
Kylie Leuluai would hear his name chanted throughout games and with good reason, as his hit-ups helped carry the side forward, enough to see them lift six Super League titles during his time. He is the club’s most successful overseas player in history and when they signed him back in 2007, few could have envisaged just how good he would be.
Joining him in the front-row is Super League’s most successful ever player Jamie Peacock. He was named the official 2000s Super League Player of the Decade and you could argue that he was the competition’s best player for the first half of this one too! He rounded things off in fine style in 2015, continuing to produce world class performance week in week out at the age of 37. Jamie Peacock was an unstoppable force and will be remembered as a legend of the sport.
Hooker – Danny Buderus
Speaking of legends and although he didn’t make his name at Leeds, former Australia captain Danny Buderus still produced world class performances for the Rhinos. The New South Wales hooker took the Rhinos game to a new level after he arrived in 2009, with the rest of Super League having to adapt to his style of play rather than the other way round. In his three years at Headingley, Buderus won two Super League titles and will be fondly remembered by Leeds supporters.
Second-row – Jamie Jones-Buchanan & Carl Ablett
Jamie Jones-Buchanan spent 20 years in blue and amber and is another legend of the club. Despite not receiving the same recognition as some of the other names in this team, he is one of those hard-working players every successful side needs. Another hometown lad who fulfilled his dream of winning trophies with the team he supported as a kid.
Carl Ablett is another who recently retired after he served the club for 13 seasons. Capable of getting under the skin of the opposition, the powerful back-rower often produced big moments in big games for the Rhinos, with his try in the 2012 Grand Final a turning point. When you talk of the golden era at Headingley, Ablett’s name is rarely brought up, but it should be, because he definitely played his part.
Loose-forward – Kevin Sinfield
Last but not certainly least is the king of Headingley himself, Kevin Sinfield. Super League’s most successful ever captain, having lifted seven Super League titles, ‘Sir Kev’ is worshiped by Rhinos supporters and it’s hardly surprising. He is the club’s all-time leading points scorer and the third highest in rugby league history. His ‘robotic’ right foot saw him produce an unbeatable kicking game, whether that be at goal or in-play, and this was only part of his exceptional all-round game. His leadership and guidance helped the Rhinos become a dominant force and he is arguably the most influential figure in Leeds Rugby history.
Coach – Brian McDermott
Despite his sacking in 2018, Brian McDermott is the club’s most successful coach winning every domestic honour in the game. Assuming the reigns in 2011, the no-nonsense figure led the Rhinos to back-to-back Super League titles before doing the same in the Challenge Cup. The World Club Challenge win in 2012 was one to remember but the highlight was undoubtedly the 2015 history-making treble. McDermott added another Grand Final in 2017 before his departure, with the club struggling in 2018 following the retirement of so many key players. Although he adopted a very successful team, Brian ‘Mac’ helped take Leeds to another level and that shouldn’t be underestimated.