Leeds trio eye more glory
A statue of Manchester United’s ‘Holy Trinity’ stands outside their Old Trafford ground which on Saturday will host Leeds Rhinos’ version of George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton as they look to write another successful chapter in their club’s history.
At 29, 30 and 32, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield have formed the spine of Leeds’ side for the best part of a decade, lifting five Super League trophies in that time.
A sixth beckons if they beat Warrington Wolves on Saturday - a feat that would remove any doubt as to whether or not they are the best side of the modern era - and the trio will again be at the heart of the action.
Products of the club’s well-regarded academy system, they have all played an equal role in Leeds’ success.
Sinfield is a five-time Grand Final winning captain, McGuire Super League’s all-time leading try scorer and Burrow one of the most illusive and talented players around.
“There aren’t many Super League clubs who have got three players, stand-off, scrum-half and loose forward that have been together for as long as we have,” Burrow, the 5ft 5in playmaker, who won all 39 media votes for man of the match in last year’s Grand Final win over St Helens, said.
“It’s all down to our youth system. We have this triangle of players who have grown up together.
“It would be interesting to go through other clubs and see how many of them have had the same six, seven and 13 for the past 10 years.”
The answer would be none. The trio are occasionally broken up though, as was the case in last week’s semi-final win over Wigan Warriors when McGuire served a suspension.
It was just Leeds’ third win in nine games without him this season and Burrow admits it is strange when he is not there.
“It can be liking having your arm cut off,” he said.
“With Danny being the same age as me, we've both been here since six and seven at the academy. I've played plenty of times with him and enjoyed some great experiences and tours, and it has come together pretty well.
“Then you throw in someone like Kevin, who has been there and done it and at times can be quite magical.
“You associate big games with Danny McGuire and who would have thought that he would have been banned? But that's the way it was.
“It was disappointing that he had to miss out. The fact that we've won gives Danny the chance to play in these big games.”
Leeds were well represented at Monday’s Stobart Super League awards night, when full-back Zak Hardaker won the young player of the year, McGuire was rewarded for his community work and Jamie Peacock picked up an achievement award.
There were some raised eyebrows about the lack of a Leeds player in the Man of Steel category though, with Wigan’s Sam Tomkins lifting that prize.
“We’re all pretty miffed as to why Kevin is not in that category,” Burrow added.
“But Kevin is not a guy who will look at that. He's a guy that performs week-in, week-out for Leeds and he won't be too fussed about that.
“He's got to be up there as the best-ever Super League player. It speaks for itself his record, doesn't it?
“He's the most successful captain probably ever, especially in the Super League era. He's a great rugby league person and personality. When you look back in Super League you associate Kevin Sinfield with success.”