I think it’s safe to say that despite a Grand Final defeat to St Helens on Saturday, there is plenty of optimism around Leeds Rhinos at the minute.
The Rhinos have a young squad, they have the academy Champions who beat the Saints in their own Grand Final on Sunday and they have a terrific coach in Rohan Smith who started Leeds’ journey not only towards Old Trafford when he arrived in May but also began the start of a new era.
Leeds fans are certainly very optimistic about what the future looks like under Smith and that optimism is shared by Chief Executive Gary Hetherington who made the bold decision of appointing the relatively unknown Smith when Leeds were still in a relegation battle.
Though he expressed disappointment at their Old Trafford defeat when speaking on the Rhinos’ YouTube channel, Hetherington described the season as remarkable considering what they achieved despite unprecedented injuries and suspensions in his opinion.
“When you go to Grand Finals, you go to win and that’s what we did,” Hetherington said, “We just came up short. Credit to St Helens, they played extremely well.
“While it was a disappointing result, what had gone before it was quite remarkable. It’s been a remarkable season really.
“It started with optimism and confidence, we were decimated by injuries and suspensions in the early part of the season and poor form as well.
“I think what we’ve seen in the second half been a complete transformation. Credit to Rohan, the coaching staff and the players.
“Who could have believed we would have made it to a Grand Final. We’ve had a lot of remarkable journeys on the way to a Grand Final, but this season has been the most remarkable. I’ve never known a season as affected by injuries and suspensions.”
Moving forward, he believes Leeds can get back to challenging every year:
“It’s a two-year plan we have a lot of senior players into the last year of their contract in 2023. Some players are coming to retirement age. It’s a process of change and we’ve got Rohan at the helm who is making those decisions.
“It’s an emerging Rhinos squad. It’s not going to be complete, it never is. It’s always moving but the nucleus is emerging.
“We’re looking at having a squad that can challenge every season for the foreseeable future.”
Watch the full interview here: