Find out more about the Rhinos new boss for 2008 and beyond with our special factfile on Brian McClennan, click here for more information...
1. Brian McClennan became highly regarded in New Zealand after taking the small Hibiscus Coast club in Auckland's north from the Auckland third division up to the First Division and then promotion to the National Bartercard Cup which they won in 2001. He then moved to Auckland Lions (Mt Albert) and won three consecutive Championships in 2004, 2005 and 2006. 2. He was assistant to Daniel Anderson in the 2004 Tri Nations but had to return home from England after finding out that his wife Julie had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and was undergoing surgery. 3. McClennan sold his auto-glazing business so he could care for their then four-year-old son, Regan, and two-year-old twins, Daniel and Katie, while Julie had radiotherapy and rehabilitation to help her learn to walk and talk again. 4. McClennan was involved with the New Zealand Warriors as an assistant to John Ackland and coached Nigel Vagana and David Solomona in the club's development team a decade ago. 5. McClennan, who was a half back during his playing days, once partnered Kiwi legend Stacey Jones in the halves for Auckland, which he captained on another occasion to victory over the 1990 touring Great Britain side which was . 6. Having grown up in Rugby Union-obsessed New Zealand McClennan is a self-confessed "Leaguee" and comes from a family where the 13-man code is king. 7. His father, Mike McClennan, coached St Helens between 1990 and 1993. At Saints, he took the club to Wembley in 1991 before losing to rivals Wigan 13-8 in the Challenge Cup Final but overturned that result in the Premiership Final in 1993 to win 10-4 at Old Trafford. He also won the Lancashire Cup and Charity Shield at Knowsley Road. Whilst coach of St Helens his father famously poured a pint over a fan who was getting a little heated on the sidelines. 8. Mike McClennan's nickname back in New Zealand was BlueMax so his friends called young Brian BlueBoy. The nickname has remained to this day but shortened to just Bluey nowadays. 9. Under the leadership of McClennan, New Zealand have won six of their 14 games including wins over Australia (twice), Great Britain (three) and France (once). 10. In McClennan's first game in charge in 2005, New Zealand won for the first time in Sydney since 1959 with Leeds centre Clinton Toopi scoring a hat trick. 11. He showed his team spirit ethos following New Zealand's win over Great Britain that year at Loftus Road, when McClennan joined his players on the pitch to perform the Haka as a tribute to record international Ruben Wiki. That game saw New Zealand equal the highest away score against Great Britain with a 42-26 win. 12. The Kiwis win over Australia in the Tri Nations Final at Elland Road ended the Kangaroos 27 year dominance of the game. It was their first defeat in a tournament or series since 1978 and the first time since 1953 that New Zealand had beaten their neighbours twice in a year. The 24-0 margin was the widest ever recorded by New Zealand against Australia and was the first time since 1985 that the Kiwis had nilled the Kangaroos. 13. A year later, despite being docked two points in the qualifying stages, New Zealand reached the Final with a new look side with only 9 of the 17 players involved having played at Elland Road twelve months earlier. Against the odds, they pushed Australia all the way before losing out by a golden point in extra time. New Zealand had recorded their biggest ever win over Great Britain in the final pool game to book their place in that Final and the Kiwis achievements saw McClennan named Gillette International Coach of the Year for his achievements last year.
This game was billed as the clash that the game wanted as Leeds and Wigan met for the first time in the Grand Final since the inaugural Old Trafford decider back in 1998 and it certainly lived up to expectations.
The Rhinos face Wigan tonight at a sold out Old Trafford, if you haven't been lucky enough to get a ticket why not visit one of our great ambassador pubs with great offers available during the Grand Final on food and drink.