Hetherington admits Leeds are in transition

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington has pleaded with fans to get behind the team following their hammering at the expense of Castleford.

The Rhinos suffered their biggest defeat of the Super League era as they went down 66-10 to Castleford at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.

Disgruntlement among the club’s support has increased significantly following the defeat, with the club’s recruitment over recent year being one major criticism.

Hetherington revealed he had received a “record number of emails” following the defeat to Castleford, and asked fans to stick by the decisions of senior management.

“Our performance at Castleford was very poor from start to finish,” he said.

“Our opponents were just the opposite! They were exceptional on the night. The result was significant. Our heaviest defeat for over 20 years. This raises two questions. Firstly, how would we have fared if our team had included Rob Burrow, Keith Galloway, Mitch Garbutt, Jamie Jones Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Brett Ferres and Stevie Ward? And secondly was this one of those ‘one off’ results which occasionally occur in Super League? Last season for example Wigan conceded over 60 points at Wakefield Trinity, but recovered and went on to win the title.”

With regards to the club’s recruitment, Hetherington called for patience as Brian McDermott attempts to get the best out of his side, but did confirm they would be willing to take action if things don’t improve.

“These are the type of judgement calls that have to be made by senior management in all sports organisations all of the time and results like the one last week heighten the need to scrutinise. We found ourselves in this position last season and at the time, we were in no doubt our best policy was no change because we believed the team would show its true colours once the group of senior players returned from injury.

“We made a judgement call which I believe was the right one but we are not stubborn enough to believe no change is always the best option. But equally we don’t make knee jerk decisions and any actions have to be carefully thought out with the only consideration of “what’s in the best interests of the club now and in the future”.

“With regard to our playing squad we are in a period of transition and the team that played at Castleford included 6 young players who have fairly recently graduated from our Academy and they are all learning and playing in a high-pressure environment.”

Hetherington continued: “This month is an important one with games against Catalans Dragons, Wakefield Trinity, Huddersfield Giants and Wigan Warriors and at its end we will be in a much better position to make an accurate judgement on the performance of all our players, coaching staff and senior management including myself.

“In the meantime, let this be a time when we all continue to give as much vocal support as possible to the team who I know are desperately disappointed and determined to respond in the best possible way.”