IT WILL take a huge improvement for them even to challenge for a play-off place this year, but veteran forward Brett Ferres is optimistic about Leeds Rhinos’ chances of getting back among the contenders in Betfred Super League 2019.
Leeds have been on a rollercoaster since winning the treble in 2015 having finished among the bottom four in 2016 and last year while winning the Grand Final in between.
The 2018 campaign was arguably the worst in Rhinos’ history and ended on a dismal note with a home loss to Championship side Toronto Wolfpack, the first time they had been beaten by a lower division team since 1985.
Since then former Leeds player David Furner has returned to the club as head coach, there has been a backroom shake-up and big money splashed out on marquee recruits Konrad Hurrell and Trent Merrin, as well as Tongan international Tuimoala Lolohea.
Ferres is now fully fit after undergoing surgery on a wrist injury and believes Leeds’s prospects are bright.
“We are quietly confident,” said the former Bradford Bulls, Wakefield Trinity and Castleford Tigers man, who joined Rhinos from Huddersfield in January, 2016.
“We’ve made some great signings and some of the young kids are another year older and were looking great last year in a tough situation.
“Us older heads have learned a lot from last year as well.
“With Dave coming in he has really freshened it up and there’s a bit of clear structure in what we are doing and how we are playing and defending.
“That has certainly added to us and the staff who’ve been brought in have been great as well.
“It really bodes well for us.
“We are looking forward to it, it’s an exciting squad we’ve put together and the coaching staff as well.”
Ferres’s fitness and enthusiasm are further sources of encouragement for Leeds.
He was an established England international before being struck by a series of injuries and will be an influential player this year if he regains that form.
Ferres confirmed: “I was happy enough when Kev [Sinfield, Rhinos’ director of rugby] came in at the back end of last year.
“The last couple of months with him I was playing every week and I started to find a bit of form again.
“Hopefully I can continue from there and keep cracking on.
“I’ve had a bit of a rough run with it, but it’s part of life.
“It’s the way it goes. I’ll put all that behind me now and concentrate on going forward.”