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Leeds Rhinos missing Kevin Sinfield more than they expected

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Flash back in time six months October 10, 2015, Leeds Rhinos had just completed the unthinkable and had won the Grand Final against Wigan, completing the treble - winning every domestic trophy available to them.

In doing so they said goodbye to three club legends. Kylie Leuluai and Jamie Peacock retired, with Peacock taking over as 'Football Manager' at Hull KR. The third legend was possibly the most influential player in Leeds Rhinos' history, Kevin Sinfield.

Known affectionately by the fans as 'Sir Kev', Sinfield was the stuff of legends way before his switch to Yorkshire Carnegie at the end of the 2015 season. He is one of only four Englishmen to win the Golden Boot, awarded to the best player in the world. He won the trophy in 2012 and at 32 became the oldest player ever to win the accolade.

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He holds the Super League Points record, having scored 3204 points in the league for the Rhinos, in 2012 he led Leeds to the Super League title and managed to complete the playoffs with a 100% kicking record.

Fastforward six months and Leeds are a totally different outfit. They sit in 11th place in the Super League with just two wins in nine games. Injuries to key players like Danny McGuire and Ryan Hall haven't helped, but the lack of leadership and organisation from Sinfield has been apparent in every game this season.

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In attack, there is a distinct lack of organisation, with players getting in each others way, or players like Zak Hardaker getting so frustrated that they try and do everything themselves. In defence, where last season there was a wall of players, gaps appear regularly for the opposition to expose.

They have even missed the goal kicking accuracy of the record points scorer, although with seven different kickers in the Wigan vs Warrington game last Friday, it appears they are not the only team struggling to find their first choice kicker.

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

Yes there are other factors in Leeds's downfall. Adam Cuthbertson has had to concentrate far more on making the hard yards without Peacock and Leuluai, which has meant that the flair and dynamism that led to him becoming Super League's record offload-maker last season, has been curbed.

All is not lost though and if Zak Hardaker's statement this week that they are still aiming for the top four this season is anything to go by then the players have not lost hope. The fans are sticking by them at present, and with rugby league fans less fickle than football fans I can't see this changing.

With Danny McGuire due back imminently, if they could just get the new faces like Bret Ferres, Keith Galloway and Beau Falloon to gel with the remainder of the old guard, then they still have a chance to leave the legacy of Kevin Sinfield behind them and push on to create their own success.

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Topics:
Rugby League
St Helens
Warrington Wolves
Leeds Rhinos
Super League
Kevin Sinfield
Wigan Warriors

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