For rugby league fans this season has already been memorable, and for Leeds Rhinos fans it has been for all the wrong reasons.
A 22-20 win over Wigan Warriors in October 2015 in the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford secured a domestic treble and left Rhinos fans feeling on top of the world. Fast-forward to this July and the Rhinos are sitting at the bottom of the table and are already without any chance of making the top eight, so instead of fighting for the main prizes, Brian McDermott’s men will be scrapping for survival.
For the main prize, winning the Grand Final, Wigan are the favourites, and you can check bookies.com for all the free bets and offers available, and if you don’t think the Warriors will be victorious use your bet for the best of the rest.
As for the Rhinos, McDermott insists his players are still ‘pumped’ and ready for the challenge that lies ahead for them, but fans will be shocked at the situation the champions find themselves in.
Of course, the loss of key players Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai as well as the iconic Kevin Sinfield was always going to be tough for the Yorkshire club to cope with, and hopes of recapturing their title seemed tough.
However, nobody anticipated this fall and that maybe displays how much influence those players had, both on the pitch and in the dressing room, and the fine margins that can decide such competitive games can come down to experience.
As well as that, Chief Executive Gary Hetherington has a valid point when he bemoans the club’s injury record which has blighted the side this year and left coach McDermott with a lot of youngsters in the side.
He points out that despite a salary cap of £1.9m the side that has been on the pitch has rarely been above £1m, which demonstrates clearly how the club have suffered with bad luck.
As well as that, they recently lost 2015 Man of Steel Zak Hardaker who requested a move to NRL side Penrith Panthers with James Segeyaro coming in the other direction.
As well as injuries, Leeds have also suffered with the weather.
A flooding bill of almost £1m has been racked up and the club face the prospect of being away from their usual Kirkstall base for months after the training ground was ruined.
When a club is in trouble, work on the training pitch can be crucial and moving from your regular base can be another disrupting factor that won’t have helped the Rhinos this campaign. However, well those extenuating circumstances are perfectly understandable, the Rhinos simply shouldn’t be in this situation.
Overall, the Super League season has already provided us with drama and will continue to do so as we approach the business end of the season.
Whilst Hull FC currently lead the way, Wigan and Warrington will be hoping they can force their way into the Grand Final as well as a host of others.
As for Leeds, they will be watching on with envy as they instead focus on preserving their top flight status, and who would’ve predicted that?