From Rhinos hero to part-timers York, Tansey seeks redemption

Jordan Tansey in action
Jordan Tansey in action
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Five years ago, he was at the centre of perhaps the most dramatic Super League match in history, playing for the champions-elect and already being eyed by one of Australia’s biggest clubs.

Yet today, despite still being aged just 25, Jordan Tansey finds himself struggling in front of demoralising crowds as low as 410 for a part-time side who cannot buy a victory, wishing he had not thrown it all away.

It is a sign of his fall from grace that THAT moment at Millennium Magic in 2007 is still deemed his biggest feat.

There should have been so many more, especially given he was part of a gestating Leeds Rhinos side which would yield four Grand Final wins and two World Club Challenge titles in the next five seasons alone.

However, as Tansey freely admits, the gifted full-back touted as the next big thing made a series of “bad decisions” – many alcohol-related – which saw him spiral out of control.

It now leaves him battling with the rest of his beleaguered, winless York City Knights team-mates at the foot of the Championship table.

The journey there is a story in itself but on the eve of the sixth Magic Weekend it would be remiss not to start with those contentious events of its original.

During a wildly see-saw, free-scoring game which was the final act on the Sunday evening in Cardiff, Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield lined up a last-gasp penalty to equalise against fierce rivals Bradford Bulls.

The long-range effort rebounded off the crossbar and Tansey followed up to touch down despite clearly running from an offside position.

The penalty had already been wrongly awarded but it also later emerged video referee Ashley Klein overstepped his remit advising Ganson to blow up.

But more apparent madness occurred; Ganson then – despite the pleas of incensed Bradford players – failed to go to Klein to check on Tansey’s score and Leeds could barely believe their luck as they came away with a 42-38 victory they readily conceded they never deserved.

Irate Bulls coach Steve McNamara fumed “the referee decided the game; it was ludicrous, ridiculous and I’m sick to the teeth” while chairman Peter Hood, bizarrely, threatened legal action and urged Leeds to cede the two points.

Tansey will not be featuring at the Etihad Stadium this weekend when the extravaganza tries new ground in Manchester.

But he remembers those events so vividly. Does he, however, remember being offside?

“No, I didn’t know that until afterwards,” he insisted to the Yorkshire Post. “It wasn’t until I saw the replays too that I realised why Bradford were moaning.

“Their players were going mad at Ganson but we were all just celebrating. It was the last play of the game. He’d made a bad call as it shouldn’t even have been a penalty in the first place.

“I just remember Sinny getting ready for a kick to draw the game and that’s what we were all hoping for. But, from being a kid, you’re taught to follow up all kicks and I just set off, chased like mad and hoped for anything. It hit the crossbar, I picked it up and we ended up winning.”

Tansey could understand Bradford’s fury especially as the defeat meant Leeds went two points clear of them at the top.

But he continued: “It was one of those decisions that went in our favour. We’d had plenty which didn’t in previous games and you have to ride that. We felt like we’d won a final given it was the last minute against our biggest derby rivals so we just enjoyed it.

“People do still come up and ask me about it but I don’t mind. It’s one of my career highlights.”

Leeds went on to win the Grand Final that year but the elegant Tansey – who could operate at half-back or No 1 – did not make the squad. Part of his problem was the embarrassment of riches at his hometown club including the excellent half-back duo of Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow, as well as full-back Brent Webb.

He did not feature at Old Trafford the following season either, even when Webb pulled out with a back problem.

Tansey’s talent, though, was always unquestioned, supported by the fact Sydney Roosters agreed to take him on loan for two years to further his development while the queue for places at Headingley subsided.

He made eight appearances during his unlikely 2009 NRL stint, working under the legendary Brad Fittler and alongside names like Craig Fitzgibbon and Braith Anasta before Hull FC came calling.

Tansey made a decent impact there on the field but drinking issues saw a self-implosion.

He was twice dropped for misdemeanours and sacked on the eve of last season after a third discipline breach in 12 months.

He ended up with Dewsbury but was rescued after a month when Crusaders handed him a Super League lifeline.

Tansey endeavoured to impress in Wrexham but was one of seven players suspended last July for a late-night drinking binge.

His 18-month contract was ripped up when the Welsh franchise controversially pulled out of the running for a new licence later that month.

Most Crusaders found alternative Super League employment but Tansey, mainly down to that chequered past, could only secure a one-year deal with York where he has endured an arduous opening losing all eight league games.

Tansey said: “What happened at Crusaders wasn’t down to me – the owners pulled out – but I have made some bad decisions and those led me to where I am now.

“Because of my reputation I did struggle to get another club but I’ve got that (drinking) sorted.

“Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to prove to other people that I have got my stuff sorted. I’m just glad to be back playing.

“We’ve not got a win yet but the performances are getting better.

“I’m just trying my best to get back into Super League. I’ve not heard anything yet but I’m just concentrating on playing well for York. We’ve got Keighley at home on Sunday and hopefully we’ll get that first win.”

Meanwhile, just an hour later, in the more grandiose surroundings of Manchester City’s ground, his former Leeds colleagues – McGuire, Burrow, Webb et al – will face Bradford once more as they try to conjure up some epic sporting drama again.

McNamara said in that explosive 2007 post-match press conference they’d be “talking about it for months maybe years to come” and here we are.

Hopefully, people will soon be talking about Tansey again for other reasons than THAT try and his cautionary tale.