Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington insists that despite their early exit from the Super League play-offs, the club have had a successful season.
Defeat to Catalan last weekend saw the Rhinos exit the play-offs with a whimper – suffering their sixth successive defeat either side of a first Challenge Cup win since 1999. And despite that poor league form, Hetherington believes that winning one of the major trophies on offer immediately makes the season a good one.
“There are only three trophies to be won and any team that wins one can look upon that season as a successful one,” Hetherington told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“That applies to all clubs, including Leeds Rhinos. The Challenge Cup was comfortably the highlight, although the season ended cruelly with parallels to 2006, when we were beaten at the same stage of the play-offs by a late Lee Briers drop goal.
“We went on to turn disappointment into triumph by winning the next three Grand Finals, so hopefully there’s an omen there.”
Hetherington believes the Rhinos were the “best team” in Super League for the first half of 2014, and said that had the club lost to St Helens in the Challenge Cup earlier in the year, they would have gone on to finish top of the table.
“The season started exceptionally well and for the first half of the season I thought we were the best team in the competition,” he added.
“We were very strong defensively and a potent attacking force as well. I have no doubt if we had lost to St Helens in the fifth round of the Challenge Cup we would have gone on to win the league leaders’ shield.
“Post-Wembley we were extremely well prepared and motivated to go on and do the double and the team were left devastated with the outcome.
“It has left a very angry bunch of players, who know they could have gone on to win at Old Trafford.
“Despite three disappointing league defeats after Wembley we were more than ready for the play-offs, but it was not to be.
“Sometimes in sport what’s meant to be is not what you want it to be.”