New year, new Leeds – a new coach in David Furner and a host of exciting signings to get them back in the upper reaches of Super League.
It’s been a contrasting three seasons for the Rhinos, their 2017 Super League triumph sandwiched between two disappointing campaigns that saw them participate in The Qualifiers.
Their slump last year was alarming enough for them to seek change, dismissing coach Brian McDermott and undergoing a thorough review of the club as it makes the transition in to the spectacularly re-built Emerald Headingley.
Ryan Hall and Brett Delaney became the latest of their dynasty squad to depart, while Joel Moon and Mitch Garbutt were also amongst the departures.
Under Furner’s watch, they have brought in three of the marquee-type signings that fans have felt they were missing in recent years – Tui Lolohea, Konrad Hurrell and Trent Merrin all coming in from the NRL.
Lolohea’s combination with Richie Myler is going to be one of interest, while in Hurrell and the fit-again Kallum Watkins, the Rhinos have perhaps the most exciting centre pair in the competition.
It would be a surprise if the Rhinos were unable to bounce back from last year’s poor campaign, and they should expect to be in the play-offs come the end of the year.
New signing Trent Merrin said: “Gary (Hetherington) and Kevin (Sinfield) have done a great job, adding the quality players that have come in.
“There are already established players in the team like Richie Myler, Matt Parcell and Nathaniel Peteru, so it’s going to be excellent once we all come together and get some consistency under our belt and play the style of footy that we’re all training to play.
“The expectations and how passionate they are to get back to where they know they are capable of being is something that drives me.”
Leeds open the Super League campaign as they did last season, with a trip to Warrington, on Saturday.
Coach: David Furner
Assistant: Jimmy Lowes
Captain: Kallum Watkins
Key Man: Tui Lolohea
One to Watch: Muizz Mustapha
Ins: Tui Lolohea (Wests), Konrad Hurrell (Gold Coast), Dom Crosby (Warrington), Trent Merrin (Penrith), James Donaldson (Hull KR)
Outs: Joel Moon (released), Ryan Hall (Sydney), Dakota Whylie, Kiedan Hartley, Spencer Darley (all Featherstone), Jimmy Keinhorst (Hull KR), Jordan Thompson (Hull), Brett Delaney (Featherstone), Josh Walters, James Barraclough, Harvey Whiteley (all released), Mitch Garbutt (Hull KR), Reece Chapman-Smith (Halifax)
Squad: 1 Jack Walker, 2 Tom Briscoe, 3 Kallum Watkins, 4 Konrad Hurrell, 5 Ash Handley, 6 Tui Lolohea, 7 Richie Myler, 8 Adam Cuthbertson, 9 Matt Parcell, 10 Brad Singleton, 11 Trent Merrin, 12 Carl Ablett, 13 Stevie Ward, 14 Brad Dwyer, 15 Liam Sutcliffe, 16 Brett Ferres, 17 Dom Crosby, 18 Nathaniel Peteru, 19 Mikolaj Oledzki, 20 Jamie Jones-Buchanan, 21 Ashton Golding, 22 Cameron Smith, 23 Callum McLelland, 24 Luke Briscoe, 26 Anthony Mullally, 27 Jack Ormondroyd, 28 Josh Walters, 29 Harry Newman, 30 Alex Sutcliffe, 31 Dan Waite-Pullan,32 Thomas Holroyd, 33 Owen Trout, 34 Corey Johnson, 35 Tyler Dupree