Hetherington happy as Leeds come good
By once more defying their critics and upsetting the odds in winning the Grand Final from fifth place, Leeds Rhinos’ players also delivered the perfect response to the doubts expressed by the club’s chief executive Gary Hetherington.
Hetherington issued a stark warning to Leeds’ senior players in June after a humiliating 50-8 home defeat by Wigan lWarriors eft them outside the play-off places and with little prospect of successfully defending their Super League crown.
He stuck up for coach Brian McDermott but made headlines by publicly questioning the future of the entire senior squad and hinting at a major overhaul.
Hetherington says the players provided the answers themselves with Saturday’s 26-18 victory over Warrington Wolves, their fifth Grand-Final success in the last six years and a sixth Super League title in all, enabling them to eclipse St Helens as the most successful team of the summer era.
“This team has had a remarkable run of success but, inevitably players don’t last forever, teams don’t last forever,” Hetherington said in the Rhinos’ victorious dressing room at Old Trafford.
“I asked the question if this team had run its course and, of course, the answer to that would only come at the end of the season. I think we’ve got the answer now.
“This team is evolving and, with the addition of players like Zak Hardaker, Kallum Watkins and Stevie Ward, it’s been a fairly seamless transition.
“We’ve lost major players like Keith Senior, Ali Lauititi and Brent Webb over the course of the last year or so but other players have come in and we are achieving just as much success.
“It’s a constant challenge to continually evolve the team and we are striving to do that.”
Leeds are looking to pull off a major signing for 2013 in a bid to keep themselves in the running for trophies.
One man hoping to stay at Headingley and get the chance to play in the 2013 World Club Challenge against Australian champions Melbourne Storm is hooker Shaun Lunt, whose loan spell from Huddersfield Giants ended on Saturday.
The former Workington player still has three years left to run on his contract with the Giants and is expected to discover this week whether or not they intend to sell him or recall him.
“I’d like to get my future sorted out as soon as possible,” he said. “I’d love to stay at the club because everything has gone really well.
“But, if I was to go back to Huddersfield, that’s no drama either because it’s a good club too. They’ve done great by me for the last three years.
“My manager has been in talks but I didn’t want to worry about that because I had other things more important to think about.”