ON THIS DAY – 26th September
ON THIS DAY in 1970 club legend Les Dyl made his Leeds debut against Batley. His debut signalled the emergence of a bright new star in the rugby firmament. Taking over shortly after the interval for the injured Atkinson, with the Loiners hanging on grimly to a three-point lead and the Mount Pleasant atmosphere charged with animosity, the well-built 17-year-old showed not the slightest trace of nerves, slotting in at centre like a seasoned campaigner and manoeuvring skilfully in an unavailing bid to put John Langley over, before opening his own account with a brilliant long-distance effort in the last minute.
He made 434 appearances and scored 604 points. His honours include the 1972 Championship Final and the 1977 and 1978 Challenge Cup.
ON THIS DAY in 1982 two future Rhinos players were born, with Rob Burrow and Andy Kirk both born.
Rob Burrow played his entire career with the Rhinos and won every honour with the club as part of their golden generation. A hard-working and dedicated player, his fearless performances made him one of the most respected players in the Rhinos ranks.
He was a tough competitor on the field who gave his all for the team and has the ability to create a piece of magic that was a trademark of the Rhinos team during their golden decade.
He won eight Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups and three World Club Challenges and scored 1103 and made 492 appearances.
Andy Kirk joined the Rhinos from Pudsey ARLFC in 1999 and made his debut in the 2001 season at Warrington in Daryl Powell’s first game in charge, ironically the same game when Rob Burrow started his first game for the club. He went on to make eight appearances in total for the Rhinos. In 2003 Kirk went on loan to Salford, a move that was made permanent after Salford’s successful Grand Final winning season.
After a season in Super League with the City Reds he moved back to Yorkshire and joined Wakefield before recently joining Halifax. Andy has represented Yorkshire and GB Academy sides and whilst at Leeds he was the Alliance Player of the Year in 2000.
ON THIS DAY in 1986 former Rhino Danny Williams was born. Danny emerged from the Rhinos Academy to make his debut in the 2006 season and he went on to make 15 appearances that season. He played a further three times and left the club at the end of the 2007 season with an impressive 12 tries in 18 games.
After leaving Leeds he played at Castleford, Hull FC, Salford and Bradford Bulls.
ON THIS DAY in 1999 former Rhino Marcus Bai was part of one of the most memorably Grand Final games ever in Australia on this day in 1999. Melbourne, who had been formed just the previous year, had reached the Grand Final in front of a world-record crowd of 107,558 at Stadium Australia.
The Storm had lost twice to the Dragons already in 1999 and by the time Melbourne were behind by 0-14 at half time, it was more than apparent that St. George – Illawarra were going to take the premiership in their first-ever season. There was nothing in the Storm’s performance to indicate that a comeback was possible. But Melbourne Storm recovered from their poor start with inspiring efforts from Paul Marquet, Brett Kimmorley and Tawera Nikau.
Into the final minutes of the game the Dragons led 18-14 but were forced to drop out from their own line. On the fifth tackle Kimmorley kicked high into the Dragons’ corner. As the Storm’s winger Craig Smith caught the ball over the try-line he was knocked unconscious in a head high tackle by Jamie Ainscough and lost the ball. Referee Bill Harrigan deferred to the video referee and the replay clearly showed that if not for the illegal tackle Smith would have scored a try.
A penalty try was awarded giving the Storm’s Matt Geyer a conversion from in front of the posts to take Melbourne Storm to a 20-18 lead and the title.
ON THIS DAY in 2008 the Rhinos are heading back to Old Trafford for their fourth Grand Final in five years after beating Wigan 18-14 at Headingley Carnegie. They needed a late try from Lee Smith, who will have a nervous wait to see if he plays next Saturday after being put on report, and the game was dogged by controversy after a series of seemingly strange decisions by the officials.