An email has been sent to supporters on the club’s database urging them to stay behind the team through what will be a “tough and exciting” second half of the season.
Rhinos were knocked out of the Challenge Cup by Huddersfield Giants last Friday and are bottom of Super League.
Last year’s treble-winners have lost 12 of their 15 competitive games this season, but Hetherington insists there is no panic in the camp and says fans still have a club and team to be proud of.
The full text of the message is below.
“Good Morning and I know like me, the players & coaching staff and indeed everyone connected with the Rhinos you are desperately disappointed to see the team out of this year’s Challenge Cup and at the foot of the Super League table.
“Unless you are a very longstanding fan this experience is something new to us all as we find ourselves in a tough position and one that is in complete contrast to this time last year.
“As I am sure you know, this is what can happen in professional team sport and most clubs in this situation would be in crisis with low morale, a blame culture and a frenzy to make wholesale changes throughout the organisation. But that’s not the case here!
“Don’t get me wrong, we are hurting very badly and I see it every day with the players and coaching staff at training and all our staff at Headingley, but we know the reasons for our plight and no one could have envisaged what has happened over the past few months.
“And so I find myself surrounded not by pessimists but by an incredibly energised and positive group of players, coaches and staff who are all working incredibly hard to achieve new and different goals. Our first and most immediate goal is to climb the Super League table and then make the top eight by round 23.
“The success of the last decade has been an incredible period in our club’s proud history and a journey that we have all enjoyed and rightfully celebrated. But the journey has not ended and the legacy of those years is a culture and environment that will allow our emerging stars to realise their potential in the years ahead. With that in mind, I genuinely believe we can all look to some exciting times ahead. We have a vision for the club and a set of values which underpin all we do. By the way of reminder, our four key objectives are:
“· To support and be at the heart of the community
This we are achieving through the excellent work of the Leeds Rhinos Foundation with both the city wide rugby league development plan and our engagement with projects in health, education and social services throughout the city.
“· To build a sustainable business
We are very much on track with growth in every sector and a specific focus on customer care and service.
“· To restore Headingley Carnegie Stadium to a world class venue
Along with our partners Yorkshire County Cricket Club over £50 million having been invested in the last decade and we are now on the threshold of a new project to complete the original vision for the complex and provide the very best facilities.
“·To provide the city with a team to be proud of
Being proud of your team and its players and staff is not only about winning trophies, but being proud to be part of their effort, determination, passion, sportsmanship and disappointment.
“We really do have a team and a club to be proud of through good times and difficult ones and I write on behalf of all our players, directors, staff and sponsors to thank you for your support so far and I know the boys can call upon your support for what is going to be a tough and exciting second half of the season.”