Leeds Rhinos Foundation

Leeds Rhinos Foundation

Changing Lives Through Sport

Rhinos Wheelchair RL team ready to start title defence
15 March 2019, 10:00
By Ben Hall
Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair Rugby League team get their 2019 season underway when they face North Wales Crusaders this Sunday, kick off 1:30pm at Morley Leisure Centre.
Last year was a historic one for the Rhinos as they secured their first ever Grand Final victory with a sensational 55-44 victory over league leaders Halifax, banishing the memories of two consecutive final defeats to their West Yorkshire rivals.

Now, the challenge for the side is to successfully retain their Premier League trophy, starting with a tough test this weekend against a strong Crusaders outfit.

James Simpson, captain of Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair Rugby League and Ambassador for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, is tasked with leading the team's title defence and says the holders must not rest on their laurels ahead of the new campaign.

"Last year was obviously a massive year for us winning the Grand Final. It was the end of what has almost been a six-year journey and it meant everything to the squad," said Simpson.

"It's important for us to go out there this weekend and make a real statement. We were champions last year but it's important to remember that was last year; this season is a fresh challenge and we must not get comfy.

"The key to success this year will be handling the pressure of going into the year as holders. It's new territory for us and things come with that. Teams will be gunning for us and after our scalp. Last year we took the season one game at a time and never got ahead of ourselves, so we'll be sticking to that ethos this year and taking things as they come.

"We had our last training session the other day and all the players are itching to get started and show how productive our off-season has been."

Throughout the 2019 season, Leeds Rhinos' home matches will once again be streamed live to fans on the SpiderY Sports TV Facebook page.

Chairman of Spider-Y, Andy Gardner said, "This season we have a lot of big things happening at the club, specifically through merging with Leeds Rhinos Foundation. We are now running some coaching excellence and education sessions and we are building a succession plan to introduce a pathway for our development team and put some pressure on the first team players."

On Sunday's game, he added: "North Wales Crusaders are a very good team. Their side features a lot of Welsh internationals and, like ourselves, they have grown from a young team to a major player in the Wheelchair game over the past couple of years.

"We are all incredibly excited for the 2019 season. It's been a long close season since September and we just can't wait to get started again."

Make sure to follow the side's progress on Twitter at @LeedsRhinosWTRL. For more information on Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair Rugby League, click HERE.
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