Message from Gary Hetherington
On behalf of the Leeds Rhinos Management and Board, I felt it was important that I communicated with our supporters following the bitter disappointment of our exit from the Challenge Cup on Saturday, compounded by our poor start to the season.
Firstly, I would like to say that these performances are clearly unacceptable and fall far below the standards this proud club has set. I think perhaps our recent run feels so raw because of the hope and optimism we all had at the start of the season that we were ready to mount a challenge at the top of the table again.
When we think back to that pre-season feeling, we felt we had established a squad with the right blend of youth and experience with as much strength in depth as possible within the constraints of the salary cap. We have lost players to injury, as every team in Super League does, but also caused problems for ourselves with our own indiscipline.
As our long time supporters will know, we have faced adversity like this at times before and the lessons from those experiences are invaluable as we look to plot a course to better times ahead.
The squad are clearly low on confidence at present, the first half against Castleford showed that, as we allowed our heads to drop after conceding the early tries. The job of Jamie Jones-Buchanan and the rest of our performance department is to turn that around in the short term. I still believe that this group of players are as capable and talented as we all thought at the start of the year but the key now is to start showing that with our performances.
Long term, we find ourselves in need of a new Head Coach. At Leeds, that appointment carries many unique opportunities and the ideal candidate will offer both coaching expertise but, perhaps as importantly, be a leader with a vision for how this team will evolve and become the Champion side we know it can be. I believe this appointment is as important as my decision to bring Tony Smith in back in 2003. In contrast, back then we were challenging for honours on all fronts but needed to go to the next level with a new appointment.
To that end, we have begun an exhaustive search both at home and abroad and this weekend I will travel to Australia to meet a number of potential candidates to speak to them in person and further advance our search for a new Head Coach. We have worked hard in recent years to develop and secure a group of talented, young players and this appointment will be crucial in allowing them to fulfil their potential.
I fully understand the frustration and disappointment that all our supporters are feeling at present. Having dedicated the last 25 years to re-establishing the club as a force in the game, I share those frustrations but I would ask you all to give Jamie and the team your support as they aim to get themselves back on their feet and we can start to move forward in the coming weeks.
Thanks for all your support.