The Headingley outfit last lifted the trophy in 2015 before last season’s disastrous showing that saw them miss out on the Super 8s and have to go through the Qualifiers to maintain their place in the top-flight.
However, that now seems a long time ago as the West Yorkshire club are flying high in second spot in the standings and level on 16 points with table-topping Castleford Tigers.
Consistency will be key to the Rhinos chances of success and landing the League Leaders Shield as they must take care of teams lower in the table, having already lost to Warrington and struggling St Helens.
A 66-10 thrashing at the hands of the Tigers was a real knock to their confidence, but they have beaten both Salford and Catalans Dragons.
Having suffered so badly with injuries last year, keeping their top players fit will be vital and coach Brian McDermott will hope that star man Danny McGuire can stay injury free.
At 34, he is still key for Leeds and the one-club man will look to further stretch his Super League try-scoring record this term.
Another player who has suffered more than his fair share of injuries is Kallum Watkins, but the 26-year-old has been in sparkling form of late and took apart Widnes Vikings over the Easter period.
The England international scored a brace of tries and landed seven goals, while Joel Moon also scored twice and added a couple in the 52-24 mauling of Hull FC.
There is no doubt that the Rhinos have the firepower to go all the way but, such is the nature of the sport, they are bound to suffer injuries and it remains to be seen whether McDermott’s squad is strong enough to cope with the loss of their star men.
Castleford are looking strong this year and appear a threat while Salford have made a strong start to sit third in the table and last year’s champions, Wigan, are also there or thereabouts in fourth.
Warrington won the league Leaders Shield in 2016 and lost to the Warriors in the Grand Final but, having already lost six times this season, are following a similar path to Leeds’ 2016 campaign.
Tony Smith’s men have started to rally, however, and there is no suggestion they will not make the Super 8s, but it does seem as though the Wolves will not get in the way of any potential title challenge for the Rhinos.
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May will begin with a clash against the Dragons and this could be key fixture in Leeds’ season as the Perpignan outfit are likely to be one of the clubs vying for a spot in the play-offs.
The Rhinos beat them at home, but will find it much tougher at Stade Gilbert Brutus and victory would prove that Leeds are back and in with a shout of glory in 2017.