Clarke admits he got it wrong
Phil Clarke says the Leeds Rhinos proved him wrong by taking out the treble in the 2015 season.
The TV pundit wrote Leeds off at the end of the year but the Rhinos claimed the League Leader’s Shield and victory in the grand final over Wigan.
Clarke said Leeds have been able to learn from their mistakes.
“They were in a similar situation last year when they won the Challenge Cup Final and then everything fell apart but the reason why Brian McDermott and the club have been the benchmark in Super League for the last decade is because when they get something wrong they make sure it only happens once,” he told Sky Sports News.
“The following year they rectified that and they clearly showed, even though I wrote them off actually towards the end of the season – I said they wouldn’t win another game – they proved me wrong with a remarkable comeback with Ryan Hall‘s try at Huddersfield.
“To win a treble in a team sport is an amazing achievement nowadays and Leeds deserve all of the credit.”
“Leeds’ ability to come from behind in the last 20 minutes of games isn’t a recent phenomenon. They’ve done it for several years.
“In round one of this year they were behind at Hull Kingston Rovers, came back with two late tries to win.
“They did it again at Huddersfield and they proved they could do it in the Grand Final.
“They are never written off and they don’t panic when they are in a tight situation.”
Clarke believes the Super League champions will be even stronger in 2016 despite the loss of captain Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock, Kylie Leuluai and hooker Paul Aiton.
“They have developed a brand of rugby that is so dangerous,” the former Wigan player said.
“It is brilliant to watch, it is unpredictable, it is unrehearsed.
“The tries they score are so natural that it is hard for teams to defend against them and I think that style of rugby under the leadership of Brian McDermott will only continue to get better.
“Of course players like Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leulua will be missed but Leeds’ senior management have proved over the last few years that they get nine out 10 decisions right, whether that be the coach Brian McDermott or the chief executive Gary Hetherington.
“On the basis that they are going to make more good decisions than bad ones I think they will only be even stronger.”