Hull Kingston Rovers captain Shaun Lunt believes the club are in a healthier position upon their return to Super League next year than they were 12 months ago – and insists promotion is a bigger achievement the Grand Final he won earlier in his career.
Lunt was again crucial for the Robins on Saturday as they secured a return to Super League at the first attempt, following a nail-biting victory against top-flight side Widnes.
KR now cannot finish any lower than third in the Qualifiers, and Lunt says he’s optimistic the Robins can thrive upon their return to Super League in 2018.
He said: “Even if we didn’t go up, we’re still in a better place club-wise. Our foundations and structures are a lot more solid compared to then (2016).
“The way we’ve been treated, the way we’ve played, the personnel we’ve had at the club, it has been a Super League club in the Championship.
“What the board, Rob Crossland and Neil Hudgell have given us to work with has given us the biggest advantage over anyone and I can’t thank them enough.”
When asked if he felt they could even avoid the Qualifiers next year, Lunt said: “Hopefully.
“The hard work is still to be done; this was easy compared to next year. It gets harder now but we’ll enjoy this moment and have a few drinks.”
Lunt was a Super League winner with Leeds in 2012 – but he insisted that promotion with the Robins ranks as the biggest moment of his career.
“It’s such a massive contrast from what we felt this time last year,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t be any more proud of those boys. 100 per cent it’s the biggest. The feeling today is better than winning the Grand Final. I completely stand by that.”
Lunt also heaped praise on the impact of coach Tim Sheens in helping the Robins secure an instant return to the top flight.
He said: “The club has given us a foundation to build on, but Tim, as a coach, has been just unbelievable. His man-management is second to none and he’s by far the best coach I’ve worked under so far.
“Sheensy has been absolutely huge and for him to take us up in his 700th (club) game is absolutely immense. There’s no words out there I can use to describe how good he’s been and what a bloke he is.”