As you may have read, We All Love Leeds is set to introduce a new devoted Leeds Rhinos page starting for the upcoming 2016 season. This will include reports, interviews and other content for you fans of sport in Leeds to enjoy.
Below is a preview by writer and massive Leeds Rhinos fan Lewis Watson, as he points out the key players for the 2016 season.
Not long now until the season gets back under way! Most teams have made up their 2016 squads and there have been some great signings that I can't wait to see perform. I know how much I have missed looking forward to watching the Rugby League games on the weekends! In this article I am going to talk about key Leeds Rhinos players for 2016.
A lot of the Leeds players are going to have to step up their game in 2016. Not only to keep up with the likes of Wigan and St Helens, but also to follow the footsteps of the legends Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock. Not only were they vital players, but they organised and led the Rhinos to victories.
That brings us to Danny Maguire. This is the guy everyone is expecting to take over the captaincy from Sir Kev. Danny had a fantastic 2015 season looking fitter than ever and leading the team when the captain wasn't available. The role won't be too hard for Danny, he is a born leader and has spent his whole career working with Sinfield, plus the whole squad respect him. He will make a great captain and hopefully lead the Rhinos to more trophies in 2016.
Danny Maguire can't lead the team on his own, which brings us to our vice captain. I could think of a few Rhinos players that would be great in this role, for example; Rob Burrow, Brett Delaney or Zak Hardaker.
But it has got to be a role for Jamie Jones Buchanan. With an injury hit 2015 season we only really saw JJB on the sidelines cheering on the Rhinos and celebrating the wins. Hopefully if JJB stays injury free for 2016, he will lead the pack just like Jamie Peacock did. This doesn't mean JJB will be starting every game, but with his personality and experience he will be the perfect fit to motivate the forwards.
I want to talk about three other players which will be key to Leeds Rhinos being successful in 2016. Not only do they have vital positions to play, but they will impact massively on the results.
The first player is Zak Hardaker. What a great full back who was outstanding in 2015 and in my opinion, he should have won the Man Of Steel award. Last season saw Zak win all three trophies, scoring vital tries and making impossible tackles. By doing this he also got the fantastic opportunity to wear the number 1 shirt for England in the test series against New Zealand, which saw England win 2 out of the three games and lift the trophy. Zak will play a major part for Leeds in 2016 and if he is on form, the rest of the team will be on form. Looking to the future, Zak would make a great leader and would definitely be my choice for captain for when Maguire retires.
The next player is Liam Sutcliffe. The youngster had a fantastic start to the season, but unfortunately was hit with an injury which sadly saw an end to 2015 for him. In the short season he had, he created great chances and looked like he had been partnered with Danny Maguire for years. He will be taking over Sinfields role and will be the main supplier of the set pieces and tries. We know he has the confidence to fill the spot, and lets hope he picks up from where he left off in 2015.
Last but not least is Stevie Ward. Stevie has recently been honoured in to taking over the number 13 shirt for the 2016 season. What a great confidence boost it will be for Stevie to be given the shirt worn by Kevin Sinfield for many years. Many people have said Stevie will be the new Kevin Sinfield and I still believe this. After a fantastic 2015 season, which saw him play vital roles in making the Rhinos successful, he will be a key player for 2016. An injury at the end of the season sadly saw Stevie miss the Grand Final and I personally think a spot in the England squad. I am hoping 2016 will be Stevie's season and what he has learnt from Kevin Sinfield will shine through and make a great impact for the Rhinos.
By Lewis Watson