Rugby League


Leeds Rhinos face tough task trying to repeat 2015

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2015 couldn’t have gone much better for Leeds Rhinos, triumphing in a tightly contested Grand Final against Wigan Warriors 22-20 with Kevin Sinfield kicking the decisive goal, winning the League Leaders' Shield with the last play of the game and being victorious in the Challenge Cup with a resounding, record breaking 50-0 humiliation of Hull KR. But can they repeat it or even get close to it this year?

Ultimately, you'd have to say no. Kevin Sinfield, Kyle Leuluai and Jamie Peacock all departing at the same time leaves a substantial void that needs to be filled.

While recruiting prop, Keith Galloway from West Tigers, hooker Beau Falloon from Gold Coast Titans, back rower Brett Ferres and prop Anthony Mullaly from the Huddersfield Giants seems rather positive, none possess the leadership or experience of the aforementioned trio.


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No one can match Peacock for Super League success and Sinfield as the most successful Super League captain ever.

Leeds still possess Danny McGuire, who of recent times, has used his play-making and kicking game more wisely over his outright pace and last season was one of his best to date.

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Rob Burrow, the scampering hooker/half back is a nightmare for tiring defences, while Man of Steel, Zak Hardaker and Kallum Watkins are the best in their positions in the northern hemisphere.

Leeds' pack is looking strong with the three new signings and the existing players such as ex-Newcastle Knights prop, Adam Cuthbertson - a revelation with his offloading game - former Brisbane Broncos man, Mitch Garbutt, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Stevie Ward, Carl Ablett, Brett Delaney, Brad Singleton, Mitch Achurch and Jordan Baldwinson.

Despite a couple injuries to Ward and Jones-Buchanan, Leeds have one of the strongest packs in Super League and there's no slump in quality when you take a look at the backs.

Leeds Rhinos v Hull KR - Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final

Watkins, Hardaker, Moon, Briscoe, Handley, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Sutcliffe, Keinhorst, Walters, Lilley and Golding all sparked to life for Leeds which saw them as the highest scoring team in 2015.

The first nine mentioned all played a regular part in Leeds’ success. The following four also chipped in, no more so then Jimmy Keinhorst and Josh Walters who both were directly involved in the winning try in the Grand Final.

The Challenge Cup is always possible, win four games and you're there lifting the trophy at Wembley but the other two competitions may be a stretch this year but rule Leeds out at your peril.

Despite this, if you were to offer Leeds Rhinos fans the Challenge Cup once again and the World Club Challenge (Leeds Rhinos v NRL champions, North Queensland Cowboys on 22 February) this year, most would take it, and rightly so. Plus, that would make it a quadruple, only the second team after Bradford Bulls in 2003 to achieve such a feat.

Wigan Warriors v Leeds Rhinos - First Utility Super League Grand Final

Super League will be as hotly contested as ever with many teams making strides forward.

Can Catalans finally sort out their away form and become real challengers? Can Salford Red Devils finally sort their off-field issues? Can Huddersfield Giants stop choking when it really matters? Can Castleford, Warrington or anyone else break the dominance of the big three, Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors and St Helens?

Let’s find out, starting on February 4 when Leeds take on Warrington.

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